Two Alaskans recently returned from a trip to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. They've seen the oil spill devastation first hand in Prince William Sound and now the Gulf of Mexico. Joe Banta and Patience Andersen Faulkner were there to help victims of the nation's worst oil spill disaster.
Both came back from the Gulf with similar experiences and observations about the spill. They went through the same things during the Exxon Valdez disaster.
Faulkner witnessed the effects of the disaster not only to fisheries, but to the mental health of the people.
Faulkner spent eight days in the Gulf to help communities come up with a response plan. She told families to find time to talk about what they're feeling.
After Exxon Valdez she heard about so many suicides and mental health problems.
"We can do something about the fisheries in time but it's the people that matter the most that's the most fragile," said Faulkner.
She just got back from the Gulf and sees the same thing happening there.
Gulf fisherman want to hear this will all be over soon, but Alaska commercial fisherman Joe Banta told them that the truth is that it could take years.
"Can you imagine just looking your job and not having something to replace it with right away?," said Banta.
Twenty-one years later, there's still oil on the beaches of Prince William sounds. That's something people in the Gulf don't want to think about happening there.
Environmentalist Rick Steiner, who returned recently from a trip to the Gulf, sees many similarities between the two disasters.
"These things not only have extraordinary environmental impacts but they have huge economic and social impacts, as well. The communities down there are in chaos and that's typical for technical disasters," said Steiner.
The Alaskans who went to help said they could do little but listen and tell them what they did to get through a similar disaster.
"It's hard we come down there and we don't have all the answers. They want to know their fishery is going to be alright and that they are going to be able to fish next year," said Banta.
Banta and Faulkner went down to the Gulf as representatives of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council.
And a video from NBC about how the Valdez spill still affects people in Prince William Sound: