The water rushed down the street and the sidewalk. The third round of thunderstorms rolled through town, overflowing the neighborhood’s draining system and clogging areas with debris. Sidewalks formed mud piles and car tires stopped rocks and branches. I observed all this from my front porch as hail cascaded from the sky and rain drenched the community.
Every year floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, snowstorms and other natural disasters hit towns and cities in the U.S. and around the world. Hurricane season officially begins June 1 yet over the Memorial Day weekend communities along the Gulf Coast prepared for a significant tropical storm – about the same time I watched a potential flash flood hit my community in Wyoming. As I stood on my front porch Sunday evening watching water rush like a raging river, I pondered if my family and I, with an entourage of four pets, could safely leave our home if needed.
We all need to be prepared to evacuate our homes in times of emergency. Here are five tips to handling a natural disaster situation:
Creating, and having on hand, a disaster preparedness kit can help a crisis run a bit smoother. Both the federal government’s Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the ASPCA offer more tips on caring for your pets during an emergency. Visit these websites for further information and to help you create a disaster plan and an emergency preparedness kit.
In addition to the official start of hurricane season, June is National Pet Preparedness Month. Are you and your pet prepared for a natural disaster? Following the above-mentioned tips and visiting websites noted above, you can be.
As pictures unfolded the past several days of destruction from Hurricane Harvey along the Texas coast and the sky’s open spigot drenching Houston with floodwater devastation, one could not help but wonder about the people and animals impacted by this natural disaster.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods -- every year the United States and other countries feel the assault of such forces. And, every year, rescue organizations, from the American Red Cross to the ASPCA, respond to people and pets in crisis. Sometimes the images and realities are overwhelming – who can forget Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans? These are the times when I, at least, wish I’d won the lottery and could pump millions of dollars into the organizations that respond to natural disasters.
Two recently published articles helps us understand the situation:
But, I don’t have millions. I don’t have thousands. I really don’t even have hundreds. And, I imagine most people are in the same boat, so to speak. So, how can we respond? How can we help?
Look around at the resources we do have. Can we purchase an extra bottle of laundry detergent or give up a cup of coffee at the local drive-through on our way to work? Donations, of supplies or money (even if it’s $5 or $10) can go a long way, partnering with other small donations.
As an author, I have another resource – my books: they are about pets. And, I can encourage a fundraising campaign, giving books to those who donate to Hurricane Harvey pet rescue endeavors. That’s what I’ve decided to do.
National Dog Day was Saturday, about the time Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. In honor of dogs, and helping those in need impacted by this major storm, I’ll give a book to anyone who requests one after they have donated to a pet rescue organization helping animals displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Groups such as the ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, Humane Society of the United States, and Austin Pets Alive! are participating in the pet rescue endeavors (you can learn more through the links I’ve provided here).
Email me a copy of the receipt (or some other type of confirmation) that you receive from your donation to one of these groups (or one of your choice that is helping the animals displaced by the hurricane and Houston’s flooding), and I’ll send you a book for free! My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep the book for yourself or give to a friend, child, or grandchild. My inspirational stories weave wonderful life lessons and showcase how pets can teach us amazing things.
Many of the pictures we’ve seen have also been inspirational: people helping one another, coming together in community, saving lives, providing hope. That’s what we can do here: provide hope, let others know we care. When our hearts are broken by the images of ravaging flood waters, dogs swimming in feet of water, trying to survive, hurricane damage to businesses and homes, people atop house roofs waiting to be rescued … we wonder what we can do.
I donated yesterday to Austin Pets Alive! with some of the book sale funds I received from events last weekend. I hope you’ll help me help pets affected by this crisis. The book offer will continue through September 15, when I’ll be bringing my new furry friend home (my husband and I are adopting a dog in a few weeks – more about that exciting news in next week’s blog).
Won’t you join me in helping pets affected by this month’s natural disaster? In addition to the book, I will also provide you with a FREE monthly pet-oriented newsletter, which you can also share with your pet-loving family and friends.
Thank you for doing what you can to help people and pets affected by this disaster – I look forward to partnering with you in this endeavor!
ORGANIZATIONS HELPING TEXAS ANIMALS:
Below are links to some of the animal rescue groups helping the animals in Texas:
Although June is drawing to a close, this week is still a great time to remind pet parents that the month highlights the importance of being prepared for an emergency, not only for you and your human family, but also for your four-footed family members. June is Pet Preparedness Month, and whether the disaster is flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, or other natural calamities, being prepared is critical.
The federal government provides a website regarding preparedness and pets. Visit https://www.ready.gov/animals to learn about making an emergency plan for you and your pet, creating a shelter for your animal, and caring for your furry friend after an emergency.
The primary tip to get you started with emergency pet preparedness is to create a bag or pack (known as an “evac-pack"). Here are some of the things you should have in that “go-bag:”
The ASPCA provides further information on evac-packs as well as gives more disaster preparedness information. Visit their website at https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness to learn more.
Additionally, AKC Reunite offers opportunity for county emergency management officials to obtain trailers to help pets during a disaster. Sadly, many states do not have a disaster relief trailer yet, especially those west of the Mississippi. Last year, my community received one of these important vehicles, the first and only one in the state; read the story here: http://casperjournal.com/community/article_02aad1db-1ae5-53d5-a5b8-b0822782a248.html
As rain falls, tornadoes and hurricanes break out, and wildland fires begin to crop up, let all of us who are pet parents think of our furry children as we plan for emergency situations.
August has arrived. We are still in the heat of summer when storms and wildfires explode in an instant. Floods, fires, tornadoes – all can spell disaster for people and pets. During Hurricane Katrina many pet owners stayed behind because Red Cross shelters don’t allow animals, and when people stayed, both humans and animals died. Although some organizations have since helped communities more actively prepare for handling pets during a natural disaster (see the American Kennel Club Reunite Mobile Trailer Disaster Program at http://www.akcreunite.org/relief/), pet owners should also prepare by creating an Evac-Pack.
An Evac-Pack is like a go-bag for your pet, helping you as a pet owner be prepared to care for your pet during a natural disaster. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), here are things pet parents should include in their pet’s Evac-Pack:
The ASPCA has a mobile app that can be helpful, showing pet owners what to do in case of a natural disaster/emergency. The app also allows pet parents to store vital medical records and provides information on making life-saving decisions during natural disasters. This free app can help pet owners in several other ways such as:
Learn more about preparing for a natural disaster if you have pets, including special considerations for livestock, birds, and reptiles, at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness. Other helpful websites include: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/animal_rescue/tips/pet_disaster_preparedness_kit.html?credit=web_id354243830, http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pet_first_aid_kit.html and http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m3640126_PetSafety.pdf.
Remember that Red Cross shelters don’t allow pets (they do allow service animals); therefore, plan ahead where your pet will stay if you have to be away from your home for an extended period of time. Pet-friendly hotels, boarding and veterinary clinics, and sometimes local animal shelters and pet rescue organizations can be helpful.
Plan ahead before an emergency strikes with where to go and what to take – you and your pet will ride the wave of a natural disaster better for that preparation.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.