On the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida made landfall in southeastern Louisiana, causing catastrophic damage in and around New Orleans. The Category 4 storm, with an estimated 145 miles per hour sustained winds, critically damaged the essential infrastructure system leaving over one million people without power. Fortunately, the levee system, which is essential in keeping the city dry, was not compromised, and the city was spared widespread flooding. Like Hurricane Katrina 16 years prior, Ida is causing widespread suffering for both the residents and pets of New Orleans. Like Michigan Humane’s disaster response efforts 16 years ago, we will assist those in need again.
The Statewide Response team consistently tracks all hurricanes coming through the Atlantic Ocean. Once Ida entered the Gulf of Mexico, the team started the “what if” conversations. “What if this makes landfall?”, “what if there is a request for assistance?”, what if the Michigan Humane Animal Search and Rescue team is deployed?”. Well, as I write this on Tuesday the 31st, all of those “what ifs” have proven to be true. On late Monday, the National Animal Care and Control Association (NACCA) started to coordinate efforts and identify available resources for disaster response assistance on behalf of the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LaSPCA) which is based in the heart of New Orleans. The Statewide Response team provided all available information and received confirmation that the assistance of Michigan Humane would be required. A call out to the Animal Search and Rescue team was made Monday evening advising of the need for six team members, three vehicles, the camper and a rescue boat to deploy for a 10-day duration (six days on scene and four days of travel). Oh, and the deployment would have to be 100% self-sustained as there would be no access to electricity, shelter, food, and other essential basic life-sustaining services.
The team responded professionally and proficiently by securing pre-packed gear, checking equipment and purchasing the required food and water items necessary to sustain the team for six days without access to essential items. As there is no electricity in the city, there would be no access to gasoline to power our generator and keep our vehicles moving either, so provisions were made to bring our own fuel as well.
Conditions are sweltering and humid with poor sleeping and hygiene accommodations, poor eating options and 14–16-hour workdays. But being able to provide aid and support to those people and their pets in the greatest need and during their darkest hour quickly dissolves any apprehension and temporary discomfort that the team will face. This is what we train for, and it is time to put those skill sets and compassion for people and their pets to work.
I wanted to say thank you to our team for maintaining our operations here in Detroit and the entire organization for supporting our endeavors which allows us to do what we do.
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