Genieve Long

How long have you lived in Mayflower? I have lived in Mayflower for almost 29 years.

What do you remember about the days surrounding the oil spill? The day of the rupture was beautiful and sunny, then later in the afternoon everything quickly became very chaotic and a horrid smell filled the town. In the days following Mayflower became one huge construction zone: 18-wheelers hauled in heavy machinery and storage tanks, potable water trucks covered our streets, police officers barricaded roads, fire departments came from multiple different areas to aid in the clean-up. Our lives then and there were determined by Exxon, government agencies and city officials. They controlled what parts of town we went to, what homes we could go in, what businesses stayed open, if we could go to the cove and see what was going on. No-fly zones went in to place and media was limited. It all seemed surreal and more like a bad movie.

What was your level of concern about the environmental damage? What about the smell? My level of concern peaked before I ever knew exactly what had spilled just from the symptoms I was having from breathing the air. From the instant I knew what was spilled and the chemicals it contained I knew we were in for a long road ... I knew enough to know that ecosystems, land, air, water, even our health were going to be damaged significantly. I was and still am devastated to know what the lasting impacts are going to be and wonder if it will ever be the same again.

What about the response from officials and from Exxon? It seemed as if Exxon was the one running the show. Of course, Exxon did what most knew was going to happen, they threw money at the problem instead of working to really fix the problem with the community, clean up and the pipeline itself. At first, from my perspective, they were chasing their tails to figure out how to handle the whole situation, but as time went on they seemed to pick up on Exxon’s games and started demanding answers and pushing them to handle the situation properly. I do feel there are flaws in the way things were handled and we need to take proper action to fix those issues.

What has the past year been like around town? How quickly did things get back to normal? The feeling around town has been tense because of not knowing what the future holds and no answers still to the questions they have. I do not feel the town has completely went back to normal, but we have started to try and regain a grasp of normality.

How has your life been affected by this over the past year? Life has been a whirlwind of emotions, health issues, surgery, stress, anxieties and becoming an advocate for environmental justice. I have chosen to take a step in helping others and protecting the environment, between being sick, having surgery and being emotionally drained.