On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground off the coast of Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound.
The impact on wildlife was devastating — hundreds of thousands of marine animals died. Clean-up crews poured into the nearby port town, also called Valdez, where the first animal rescue center was established.
LJ Evans (R), who lived in Valdez, volunteered at the rescue center, where she met Suzanne Bishop (L).
They sat down for StoryCorps to remember the days following the spill.
Click here for the transcript.
Suzanne Bishop: I remember coming into the town and finding no place to sleep, we slept in the back of our truck. There were a lot of people that just felt like they needed to take things into their own hands - people in their dinghies, going out into the sound, picking up these animals and bringing them back to us wrapped up in towels.
LJE: All of those creatures tried to get the oil off by grooming themselves, so then they were ingesting crude oil.
SB: We were working fourteen, sixteen, eighteen hour days there for the first month and a half. We ran countless times a day from one room to the other with dog kennels stacked up high all the way down the hallway of otters.
LJE: I had nightmares for years, cause they screamed. The otters screamed.
LJE: I'd never heard a sound like that.
SB: I remember going home every night and sobbing because it was not only terribly sad, it was very hard work.
LJE: The one joyous day, in this whole, long, stressful experience - we took all these birds that had been washed and lined up all these kennels on the beach, thirty of them, forty of them, each one with half-a-dozen birds. We opened all those crates and they swarmed out into the water and made such an incredible noise. They either paddled or they flew but they got the hell out of there. There was so much stress, so much tension for so many months, at least for that moment, that little while, you could feel good about something we had done.