The Eastern United States is under Hurricane Florence’s barrage, people are evacuating, and preparing for the worst.
In its path are countless animals who may not get the same opportunity.
Now a Category 4 storm, Florence is expected to leave large swathes of the East Coast underwater. That includes emergency animal services, as well as a number of shelters holding animals waiting for adoption.
Rather than leaving the animals to face the storm on their own, however, a number of shelters around the country are stepping up to share the burden. They’ll be taking in animals from the facilities that stand in Florence’s way.
Just two years ago, Hurricane Matthew left damaged roofs and flooded streets in South Carolina. According to the Citizen Times, shelters like the Coastal Animal Rescue in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, are taking extra precautions, battening down the hatches, and moving animals to drier land.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is going to help them make it happen, with tools, food, boats, trailers, and rescue teams already on their way to the Winston-Salem area.
“We’ve found over the years that, if we if wait until disaster strikes, we can’t access the area when we need to,” said Richard Green, senior director of the ASPCA’s disaster response team.
One of the first locations aid has been deployed with the help of donations to GreaterGood.org, is partner organization Charleston Animal Services, in Charleston, South Carolina. This facility will be used as a “hub” location to deliver pharmaceuticals from for their immediate county as well as requests from other agencies in the state that need assistance, says GreaterGood.org Director of Special Projects Denise Bash.
“They are proactively taking in pets from partners in high-risk areas and will be transporting those out after the storm passes,” Bash says. “They are an exceptional shelter partner. We will likely deliver other unkind supplies to assist them as they are always willing to help others in need.”
Shelters further inland have been on high alert for the last week, ready and willing to accept animals seeking refuge from the storm. In Nashville the Big Fluffy Dog Rescue Group retrieved 21 dogs and 15 cats from a St. Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, shelter.
The influx of animals has put a little pressure on the facility’s kennels, but it’s an easy choice to make when lives are on the line.
“They’re in harm’s way — the island and the actual shelter is just feet from the shoreline [and] may not even be there after the hurricane comes through,” Big Fluffy Dog Rescue’s Michelle Cadwell told WSMV. “So if no one can go down there, those animals don’t stand a chance in surviving.”
At least one dozen dogs, 20 cats, and a rabbit from South Carolina have been sent even further south to Broward County Florida, a community that has a reputable history of helping animals in need. Just like it did when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the Humane Society of Broward County is taking in animals from the Caribbean island, now threatened by Hurricane Isaac, as well as those on the East Coast.
“These animals were really in the path of Florence, which is turning out to be a big hurricane,” Mary Steffen, of the Humane Society of Broward County, told ABC News. “They reside in a really old shelter that they say floods when they get a little bit of a rainstorm. So they were really afraid for these animals.”
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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.