Christie Cook


ccookMy first recognition about the impact of pollution on the environment hit me when I was a first Grade student living in rural Arkansas.

Our backyard was very large and way in the back, there was a small creek, (pronounced Crick in rural Arkansas). This small creek, once discovered, became the subject of intense focus for a child of 7 or so. This creek was small enough for me to jump over, yet large enough to be the home of many creatures that drew me in to explore their habitat. There were plenty of frogs and tad poles galore! There many types of small snails, tiny clams and even small fish that swam in this tiny creek. It was the source of endless amazement and the first place I
went when I got out of school.

Though the creek was tiny, it was crystal clear and home to many amazing creatures. The creek remained a magical place for me until the flood.

After a few days of heavy spring rains, the water levels rose. Flash flood warnings were issued just slightly before the flood arrived. It was remarkable how quickly the waters rose. The wide,deep ditches that line the roadways in the community filled quickly. Soon they overflowed into the yards and streets. The rivers and streams rose suddenly to flood the roadways and our yard was soon completely underwater.

I had seen the houses built on stilts in the low areas before, but had never really understood why they were built that way until the flood came. The flood water
rushed through the rivers, streams and ditches for days afterward, but it subsided from the yards and the roadways after about 24 hours. The ground felt very sponge-like afterward and water stood in very large puddles and in wet spots for much longer. The water was everywhere during
the flooding and was very muddy, full of debris, and raging. After it subsided, much of the debris was left littering the yards and roadways when the flood waters dissipated. Trash of all sorts was everywhere -deposited along the way by the receding flood waters.

Finally, after days of having to stay indoors, things dried out enough to be allowed to go outside to play. My first trip back to the creek to assess the flood damage was heartbreaking. There was plenty of water in the creek, but none of the creatures I enjoyed so were there anymore. Oily, muddy water had replaced the clear flow I had come to anticipate finding in the creek. None of the creatures were there anymore, or at least I could not find them in the heavy sediment-ladenwaters.

I remember writing a letter to the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency to try to find answers to my questions about the degraded creek in my backyard and asking what I could do to make it better. I recall receiving a great huge yellow envelop full of all kinds of great information about the EPA’s programs, including some really cool EPA stickers.

This is when I began to realize that our environment can be negatively impacted by things people do. The real lessons came years later, while engaging in cleaning up roadways and parks on Earth Day with my classmates and teachers, and taking youngsters out to do the same, but this was my first recognition that the condition of the environment is directly related to what we as humans

The condition of the environment is in many ways a reflection of how we humans have cared for it.

Christie Cook. WasteWater Education FY 2013-14 501(c)3 Board Chair

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