Updated: Mar 23
What is LEAD Agency doing right now? We are deeply into surveys.
The word survey can be both a noun and a verb, since a survey can be a thing for a person to complete by answering questions or one can conduct a survey by asking the questions which will be answered.
Surveys can consist of a series of queries that will result in a whole stacks of answers to then have assembled, correlated and crunched into data that will in our case let the city, the county, or the tribes know how people, who may include the readers, feel about flooding or actually what those who have flooded have experienced. How many times and the ultimate question, what do you want or need help doing or what kinds of financial assistance would make your flood experience become a nightmare you won't have to experience again.
LEAD's survey team is assembled and will be spreading out in the previously flooded areas of Miami and outskirts to include Dotyville and Eastgate.
A survey takes time. Your time and our surveyors. If they miss you, they will leave a note letting you know they have tried to find you at home. If you find one of these, respond when you are able and schedule a convenient time for your surveyor to return. The team will offer you a flashdrive with LEAD's Flood Map and ways to deal with the risks we face living in a superfund site. Your flood story may become part of Air-Water-Work oral history project.
The other survey we are conducting also deals with water. Not what floods, but what is drawn from the ground from the individual drinking water wells of residents living north of Peoria, OK, to the Kansas border and east to Missouri's. These wells will be sampled either by Indian Health Service or the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. The plume of mine water in the Boone Aquifer tainted from lead and zinc mining may be moving and these agencies want to check each well for heavy metals we know can be harmful to human health. What LEAD Agency is doing is a quick survey of these residents asking if they want their wells sampled and if so to assess who will do it. If a person with a CDIB card owns or lives in the home, Indian Health Services will conduct the sample, otherwise, DEQ will collect it. It is a slow process, but all of the people we have met understand that water is life and they want to make sure their water is safe, so it has been a 100% positive if their dogs allow us to get to the front door!
I would like to say, the delight for me personally has been to have doors swing open and people to step out onto their front step to meet for the first time, or as today, find a parent of my former students and learn what's happened since their children were part of my life, with some celebrations, but also some, sadly, tragedies.
These surveys bring us together. Each allows your choices, your answers to be recorded. Think of these as equalizers. None are better than another. We believe the answers will empower our city, county and tribes to speak more clearly on your behalf. Both of these surveys give you a voice to be heard, to be valued by local, state and federal agencies.
Over the summer I had a rare occasion to speak not for myself but to be the voice for Tar Creek, to express what had happened to her, what beliefs and regrets she could be feeling. Aaron Gibson was a graduate student twenty years ago who did his thesis on chat in our superfund site. He never got this place out of his mind. He had the idea to make a short 3 minute Super 8 film, and he created what I believe will become a classic, entitled: Take Care, Tar Creek.
He sent the link to view it this evening and I turned up the volume because Tar Creek, didn't speak loudly. But her message was clear, this stuff she carries is loaded with the lead essential to the war effort, that has poisoned our children and can harm us. Everyone near a creek, stream or a river must speak up for that water because essential elements may lie beneath. "There is in each of us, the right to life and what's been forgotten is water its self is life." Tar Creek affirmed we should all mobilize to protect our water, ending with the message that we must holler loudly, that, "This is your moment."
I believe it is yours. Holler loudly and complete these surveys.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim