Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thursday 15 September 2005

Great pictures coming soon – come back and check them out!

First - some Billie fun. Billie (my carpenter) hasn’t flown since 1984 and since his drivers license expired 5 years ago we had to go thru special security. All bags were hand searched; they took his hammer and hand snips. And I had to remind him not to smoke on the plane.

Yesterday, we got into Jackson around noon. Spent over 5 hours in Walmart and Home Depot, since they have almost no employees working and could not find half the stuff we needed. But we picked up some major supplies: 12 dog crates, generator, 2 AC units, and many other essentials needed to get the HSSM facility back online. (And Billie needed to get some clothes so he disappeared into other parts of Walmart. He came back with 5 white tank tops and a pair of socks. Later that evening when I mentioned I had a sore throat and he recommended his cure all: tea, honey, and a shot of whiskey I swear this is true.)

After shopping, we drove half way to Gulfport and slept in the truck. Actually, Billie slept on the top of the truck with a cool breeze. Had a hot shower this morning maybe the last one.

About 10 miles out of Gulfport, you really start the see the damage. You’ve seen the pictures so I wont describe it. You see lots of dead animals along the road and lots of live ones.

Got to GulfPort at 6am this morning and met up with Tara High of the HSSM at the damaged facility. Usually in a tropical storm they get 5 inches of water since they are five miles from the coast. But with Katrina the facility took 4-6 feet of water, depending on the elevation of the particular building of the facility. Prior to the storm, if you had asked them if this was possible, they would have laughed. The day after the storm, they had no idea what they would see when they came in – couldn’t imagine this level of damage. The facility was filled with debris up to 4-5 feet. They had 143 animals in the facility at the time of the storm. 23 in lower kennels drowned. The rest had all been treading water with only about a foot in their cage – for over a day- and they survived. How about that for will power!!

You can’t understand how badly they need this current facility back online! They were only 4 months away from a brand new high tech facility which is only walled in. This is where they are currently handling rescued animals. Since this arrangement is not conducive to handling large number of animals, they have to be transported out to Hattiesburg – 180 miles away. This means that desperate owners searching for their pets might have to travel to Hattiesburg to search for them.

The first thing that strikes you when you see the HSSM facility (the one under const) is the amount of animals constantly coming in. People are pulling up with animals that they have picked up roaming their neighborhoods, people surrendering their own pets since they are homeless and have no way to care for them, and the rescue groups, animal control, police are also dropping off animals.

The second thing you notice is that the animals are completely terrified. Third – desperate owners are everywhere searching for their beloved pets. One older woman, came to Tara, begged forgiveness for being so upset, and asked if her pets had been located. She’’ been there every day since the storm. Understand, I was there for less than a half hour. Another gentleman who wouldn’t strike you as a pet lover, was there to get medicines, and supplies for 40+ animals that he currently had at his house, while continuing to assure their owners, his neighbors, that he would take care of their pets.

Many people wouldn’t think that a crisis could be formed around pets, animals, but police, local officials, and FEMA do consider this a crisis. By the way. FEMA has a huge triage set up at the nearby shelter specifically for animals.

From all this, I hope you can see that they have no where to house the dozens of rescued animals and how import it is to get the facility back up and running to its earlier capacity of 300 animals. This is huge since the current makeshift shelter can only accommodate aproximately 50 animals before they are taken to Hattiesburg.

That shelter can be on line once it gets electricity and ~$10000 of misc. supplies. The employees have spent 18 hours for the last ten days cleaning out the debris. Doing all they can to get things going. Most of which have lost their own homes. That’s where I am filling in. The organization of trying to fund and find these needed supplies. This org has currently no funds avail. This new $2million facility was built on loans backed by pledges by community members – most of which have lost their jobs and their houses. In other areas of Louisiana, dozens of other groups have converged to meet the needs of the animals in those communities. Here in Gulfport it is only HSSM and several other small groups – that’s’ it.

I am almost called Melanie to cancel this blog since it seemed too self serving to me. But in the end I was getting all kinds of calls all night long from different groups telling me about all the help they need.

Just a few stories:

There are 200 animals stuck in New Orleans. The National Guard isn’t supposed to be helping but they are any way they can but they are but can’t get authorization to use their vehicles to move these stranded animals.

One group of people is feeding an estimated. 2000-3000 animals each day in their houses. But they have no transportation to move these animals. It’s over 95 degrees so special trucks are needed. They wanted me to come at night to see if the truck I have was cool enough to transport these animals but at that point I was too far away to get to NO. And Billie and I had our first failure – we tried to cool the back of our truck with the generator and an AC unit so that we could pick up the animals today but because the truck isn’t insulated the heat overtook the AC – still too hot to move those animals

Another group – just 3 people - called us last night. They have been back and forth between Oklahoma and Gulfport picking up supplies. On the way back from Oklahoma after driving 23 hours straight, they were going to pick up 15 dogs that were to be euthanized today in Baton Rouge to bring them to Project Halo – a non-euthanizing facility. They wanted me to meet them and take the supplies they had in their truck so they could free up room to get as many animals as possible. Unfortunately, I wasn’t near the area that they were in. In the end, they were able to get all the animals after donating all their food, supplies, and water purchased with their own money to FEMA so they could make room on the trailer. All these animals are people’s pets – none were strays.

As you can see, the need is too great for me not to publicize it and to get more help!

Important: Home Depot Registry is now set up!

We need supplies!!

Items as low as $10. But they really need some of the bigger items, like refrigeraters, washers, etc.

Call Direct to Home Depot: 228-867-9925 Ext 432

Ask for Lonnie, Tasha, or Diane! They have the list of needed items and their prices

And to my friends, please use paypal!

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