A year ago Ann Jarrell
was living in a house she loved. She had saved for years to buy it.
daughter, Jennifer, and new grandson, Logan, were living with her
temporarily. Logan had been born December 11th. Watching
Logan's world grow, along with his reach, became a fascination for
Ann she had missed while raising her own child.
on March 29th, Ann, Jennifer, and Logan's lives changed
forever. Ann learned about the spill, which took place less than
1,000 yards from her home, when her daughter called her at work.
Describing the concentration of emergency vehicles she said the smell
was terrible. She was nauseated, her head ached. Ann called the
police to ask if they should evacuate. She was told “Don't worry,
it can't hurt you or your family.”
worried, Ann asked a woman working for Exxon. She was again told
there was not a sufficient 'level of concern,' to warrant leaving.
Again reassured, they decided to wait out the smell.
symptoms grew worse.
began making frantic calls to every agency she could find, always
told 'the level of concern' was not sufficient to warrant action. No
one would listen. No agency, or Exxon, would even take a report. Not
a resident of Northwoods, where the spill took place, Ann was not
permitted into scheduled meetings, even when she could discover when
they were taking place.
began having seizures. Logan needed suctioning for his lungs. He had
infections in his lungs, sinuses, and his ears. His doctor could do
nothing more for him. “Get a specialist,” he told them.
eyes asked his grandma, “Why can't I breathe?”
began losing days of work to blinding headaches and dizziness. Her
memory was affected and she could no longer articulate her thoughts.
On August 20th her physician told her never to return to
her home, not even to pick up items she needed. Find someone to do it
for you, he said. Toxins build up in your body.
Ann is paying the mortgage for a house she cannot enter and is,
still needs a respirator. His doctor, the specialist, says this may
be for life. Ann worries about what kind of life he will have. And
she wants an answer to her question.
what constitutes a sufficient 'level of concern?'” All of us need