Its been 7 years today since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and pretty much obliterated people, animals and property. I spent 6 months going back and forth doing animal rescue for several organizations and driving back with van fulls of traumatized, homeless, broken dogs and a few very lucky cats.
I met people from all over the world who volunteered their time, energy and bodies to save animals from an ugly death. Many of those volunteers got injured, bitten or sick doing a difficult task. I had the honor of working with many of these skilled volunteers over and over again at different staging areas, disasters, trainings and events over the years.
The last week of August is deadly for hurricanes of all sizes and names.
Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Isabel also made landfall during the same week, in different years. I was deployed to them as well, to rescue pets, livestock and wildlife.
Hurricane Andrew was the catalyst for rescue of animals in disasters. Everything that has happened in the disaster animal rescue field grew out of the Animal MASH unit in Homestead Florida.
Last year Hurricane Irene landed here in Vermont on August 29th as well, and impacted the entire State of Vermont. It was horrible. I thought my herd was not going to survive it.
6 people, dozens of cattle, hundreds of chickens and other animals were washed away in the flash floods. People are still homeless in some affected areas, waiting for FEMA to buy out their destroyed homes and trailers and some farmers will never again be able to grow crops on some of their land as many acres were washed away. My cows and I were very lucky.
Right now Hurricane Isaac is destroying parts of Louisiana again. As I listen to the news and hear the towns that are under water I recognize the names of the places I spent so much time in after Katrina. I am still reliving the events, like it was yesterday.
7 years ago my trapping teams and I were busy capturing the pets that were left behind and the livestock that wandered the muddy byways. We also created feeding stations at trailer parks for hundreds of cats and dozens of dogs that hung on to life waiting for capture, but not wanting to be captured. Requests from owners who had been evacuated to other states pleaded with teams to try to find their pets. The ones we could capture were transported to large air conditioned tractor trailers and whisked away to safe shelters out of the disaster zone. It was a never ending battle against the heat, humidity, black mold, sharp debris, snakes, alligators and long hours without food, fluids or much restful sleep and it took its toll on animals and volunteers alike.
After Isaac leaves, a new flood will take its place. The flood of rescuers and volunteers converging on the disaster areas to help again where help is needed.
Please light a candle for everyone affected by the past storms, the present storms and the future storms that bring so much damage, death and pain. And please consider being a volunteer, to rebuild what has been destroyed.
Here are some Katrina photos from some of my deployments to the Gulf Coast.
Warning; These photos are graphic.