Hurricane Florence hit the Southeast coast last Friday, unleashing wind, rain, and flash flooding in the Carolinas with catastrophic effect. Human evacuees from the area are left waiting, wondering when they’ll be able to return home – if at all.
But what happens when our four-legged friends are caught in the flood zone?
In the wake of natural disasters, as relief efforts deal with everything from emergency housing to medical crises, the needs of animals are often forgotten. During Hurricane Harvey in 2017, rescue teams found cats and dogs lost, tied up, and abandoned in the storm. For animals, just as for humans, natural disasters can be devastating and deadly.
It’s for these animals that Brandywine Valley’s SPCA seeks to offer relief.
Tuesday morning, Pennsylvania workers rescued over 100 cats and dogs from a shelter in Fayetteville, North Carolina. By the time they arrived, the building itself had flooded completely; all animals were being temporarily housed at a local fairground, in less than ideal conditions. Loading each crate and cage carefully into waiting trucks, they transported the animals back to Georgetown. There, the animals will be assessed and evaluated before moving to shelters in Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania
The Brandywine team brought in 42 dogs and over 70 cats Tuesday afternoon. In the next few days, they’re expecting at least 100 more animals from two other shelters.
The Georgetown Rescue & Rehab Center, their new evacuation hub, opened its doors Monday.
Their original plan was to open in January of next year. Due to the hurricane, those plans have changed. In the past week, the Center has gathered supplies, found local staff, and prepared care for several hundred new intakes.
“We’ve become a full service animal shelter in a matter of days,” Linda Torelli, director of programs at Brandywine, said.
It’s a lot to handle.
But the staff at Brandywine SPCA are used to springing into action. Last fall, they deployed a team to Houston to set up a temporary “rescue and reclaim” shelter as part of Hurricane Harvey relief. The spring before that, they delivered more than 50 animals from Puerto Rico as part of a national rescue mission.
In a sense, this is their area of expertise.
“Our team is very skilled at high volume intakes,” Torelli explained.
Meanwhile, they continue to search for what they call “fur-ever” families. Every animal placed in a new home opens up space for another hurricane rescue, so one adoption can save two lives.
The animals being transported out of North Carolina are only those that were up for adoption prior to the storm.
Lost or stray animals will remain in their local areas, hoping against hope that their families will return to bring them home.
Click here for more information on the Brandywine Valley SPCA rescue and rehab center in Georgetown, Delaware.