Back then John had been an outsider and worked for an oil company. He had resigned that job two weeks after arriving here when it became obvious that despite all their public relations statements that they were really not going to do much to help with the clear up of another company's spillage. They had flown in experts, including John and an emergency supply of dispersant, however when the scale of the disaster became apparent they had pulled most of the support out. The last thing they wanted the public to see was their company logo and name anywhere near dying birds and animals. John had been one of the last ones they had told to leave and even before that they had sent him anonymous overalls and safety gear to wear and business cards that said he worked for an oil industry trade body.
As soon as he had handed in his resignation John had signed up with one of the local volunteer environmental groups. His expertise and contacts had really helped to get things moving. The group had helped him find a place to stay and in return he had worked all the hours he could to help reduce the impact of the spillage. In the first few months he had lived on his savings and eventually with help of friends back in Houston had sold his house there and had his belongings put in a shipping container and put into storage until he decided what to do next.
The brief Alaskan summer was almost over when the chairman of the environmental group had approached him with a proposition. They realised that the clean-up was going to be a long term project and that they needed someone to run it day to day who understood what could be done and had the technical knowledge to direct effort where it would do most good. They had enough funding from donations and an interim grant from the oil giant and could offer him an initial one year contract. Here was something that John could really see as being useful and worthwhile and he had accepted. The one year had stretched into two years when John had met Martha at a town social dance. They had clicked as soon as they started talking and neither had left their seats to take a dance by the time the band stopped playing and people started stacking up chairs to close up the hall for the night. The next day John had contacted the storage company and told them to send his belongings up to Alaska. He needed to be able to tell Martha that he was here for good. They had married a month later.
Work directly with the environmental group lasted another year. By this time Martha was expecting their first child and he needed a more secure job. His past experience and work lead him to a post with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation where he continued to work on the legacy of the Exxon Valdez spillage. That was what had led to him standing here today looking at another huge oil spillage and hoping that this time they had learnt enough to minimise its effects. Time to head back to the four by four and get things moving...