Archive for February, 2008

Another day in the life…

February 25, 2008

I’ve got so much going round in my brain, half the time I think I’m going to explode. Just from overstuffing my brain! None of the volunteer efforts would have been successful without the organizational skills of Janice & Steve Boren. A few days after the Tornado, they parked themselves outside of the Red Cross command center at our Rec Center. Since they live in this area, people would stop by and talk with them- and give them the information that the Red Cross wasn’t able to get. Who got hit, how can they be reached, the property address, any injuries, any insurance, immediate needs, etc. They were able to organize initial volunteer efforts, making sure that volunteers (with big hearts) understood that many people COULDN’T have debris removed as the insurance adjusters hadn’t come yet (this is important- if the insurance adjusters can’t see what happened, they’re more likely to just flat out deny the claim). But the volunteers were able to get tarps on roofs (to prevent further damage from rain), help people collect their belongings from the rubble, and in some cases, just listen.
The Red Cross eventually started relying on Janice & Steve, as their records were better and the locals would open up more. Janice & Steve also had maps and understood the topography. Our part of this area is very hilly- think West VA, with deep hollers carved into the ridges. And we had a lot of trees. Lot of old trees- big old hardwoods that were beautiful. It now looks so naked here-I wonder if we would have lost as many hardwoods if the tornadoes had hit after a normal summer, not after a drought when the trees were already stressed (and stressed before the drought by a wicked bad deep freeze in mid April of 07, after all the trees leafed out- that killed a lot of stuff).
That first weekend after the tornadoes was when I met Steve & Janice, as I had gone to try and get some info out of Red Cross- or at least tell them to give my name to people with animal/farm issues, as I knew RC wasn’t helping there (and no one else was). I gave the same info to Janice & Steve (from now on J&S or S&J), who were in the process of sending out two church rescue groups- the Church of Christ Disaster Relief Team and the Baptist Disaster Relief Team (I may have the names slightly wrong). So we asked both of them to also collect info on who needed farm/animal help and to give out my number.
I can’t say enough about those two teams- they are incredibly organized, they are incredibly thoughtful, honest, compassionate and hard working. It’s obvious they’ve done this a few times as they are well oiled and understand the nuances of insurance issues- and frazzled homeowners who were starting to break down.
When this is all over, I want to get some emergency first responder training- especially in the animal department. Some things I’ve noticed that need to be addressed for the next disaster:
1) ability to get animals out of harm’s way (i.e., a coordinated effort of livestock trailers, dog/cat crates, etc) all equipped with a basic animal first aid kit – and a basic understanding of hoof care (you may have to pull shoes, you may have to treat a hoof puncture, etc).
2) emergency places to take animal victims of disasters- along with this, I would suggest spray paint, or some kind of markers, to identify animals (“tagging”). I think we need to set up for disasters in our park (s). We were lucky as there were plenty of volunteer offers of pasture/boarding-
3) Some sort of way to find emergency feed/hay etc on a super short term basis (i.e. for the 48-72 hrs after the disaster).
4) emergency fencing- for either homeowner or at a holding facility
5) some way to deal with biohazards -cross contamination by different farms/animals- the stress of a disaster will bring immune systems down, and the animals would then be prone to pick up diseases they either might not be vaccinated for or even shouldn’t be in the area.

I’ll add to this list as I think of more- I kind of feel like I’m re-inventing the wheel, as I believe this is what DART is supposed to deal with. I’m hoping there will be an animal emergency first responder course held up at KY Horse Park in the next few months. I am going to suggest it- maybe The Horse Magazine will help sponsor it? Or at least get the ball rolling. If anyone from The Horse, KY Horse Park, or AAEP is reading this and either has suggestions or knows of a course, please contact me as I’m really not doing too much googling right now.

OK- back to kudos & hats off:
Vets, and this is only a partial list- there are others I don’t know about:
Nathaniel Wright, DVM, TN Equine Hospital in Thompson Station
David Butler, DVM, PetVet in Grassland
Marc Smith, Natchez Trace Veterinary Clinic in Franklin
These 3 I know came out and helped as soon as light hit on Wednesday the 6th of Feb. As I said there were others, I just don’t know who they are.

I also want to mention Casey Damron, DVM, at White Oak Animal Hospital in Fairview. To the best of my knowledge, he didn’t get out to help, but he did arrange for a donation of dog & cat foods through Science Diet. And that deserves a thank you.

Donations, Grants, etc:
Science Diet (as mentioned above)
PetSmart Charitable Donations- they are wonderful! Have provided kennels, dog houses, feed, kitty litter, kitty litter pans, etc. Basic necessitites.
United Animal Nations (UAN, a 501c-3 dedicated to animals)- has a grant for emergency vet care, transportation and boarding.
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a grant for vets who’ve treated disaster victims.
Merck- has a grant for medicine and supplies for vets treating disaster victims.
Farm Aid- has a case by case basis grant available to farmers who’ve been effected by disaster.

As I mentioned above, there has been an incredible outpouring of help from the local community. There has been so many offers to board large animals, I’m overwhelmed. What is great, is that we haven’t needed them all, but I do ask these caring wonderful people if they wouldn’t mind remaining on the list, as we may have to move animals around. With the drought still in effect, and with people’s busy lives, having to care for extra animals for 6 months or more may get to be too much, so if we can “share the love” it might keep the strain down.

The Farm at Natchez Trace, which is a very nice (!) boarding facility for dogs & cats, has offered to shelter a dog or so on a per need basis. Luckily we haven’t had to take them up on this incredible offer, but it’s certainly nice to know they’re there. And we may have to take them up on this as people are relocated again.

Yesterday, an incredible lady called me- her name is April and she said she had 2 rolls (300′ each) of 4 foot no climb horse fencing (woven wire) and some T-posts. Did I know of anyone who could use this. OMG! This is incredible. I sent April to Lisa, who’s trying to get her horses home, but can’t because there’s no fencing (well, she tried to put up barbed wire and we all talked her out of it!). So this will get Lisa that much closer to her horses coming home.

The community response has been incredible. I just can’t say enough about the quality of people around here-

I’ve got to get back to my sick daughter… currently named Mt. Vesuvius! ICK.
Thanks to everyone- Vivi

A day in the Mud, tornado relief continues

February 23, 2008

Hay… we’re getting creative out here in the stix!

First off, Big Hugs to Noreen for the two HUGE boxes of clothes for Tornado victims. I’m taking them up to the Tool Box tomorrow (The Tool Box is our local hardware store- almost never has the wrench or screwdriver you need, but they’re super people and opened up their back warehouse for donations for Tornado Victims). Noreen, I haven’t gone thru the boxes, but what I saw look barely worn! There will be some very happy, grateful people in Fairview- Thank you!

This morning, Scottie & Peppy showed up. Now this is important, because Peppy drove her 20+ foot gooseneck up my hill and lived to tell the story! Which means I can someday get a truck and a gooseneck 🙂

We loaded 2 of Scottie’s gals in Peppy’s 4 horse trailer, and two in my stock trailer, and off they all went to Peppy’s place, where there are 30 acre pastures, running creeks and grass (something I don’t have).

I’ll miss those old big gals-

But the wacked out QH’s are now extremely happy to have the Huge (in their minds) pasture for themselves to play, play, play. This is good because the 2 yr old filly, Belle, tried to kill Rolo this morning- had him pinned in corner and was just WAILING on him. I’ve put the ancient pony mare in their old paddock by the barn…

After taking the horses, I came home, grabbed my files on the tornado stuff and headed into Nashville to PetSmart. They made a donation, from their charitable arm called PetSmart Charities, to help the animals in this area, and I had to take my horse trailer to get it all- The donation was so big that the pallet it was on cracked and we almost didn’t get it on my trailer. After PetsMart, I met up with a Brownie Mom from Troop 1388 (a different troop than ours), and she gave me dog food, cat food, kitty litter, litter pans, scoops, bowls, etc. AND GirlScout Cookies (like I really need those, LOL). I raced back home, and started making the circles for donating. I took litter to Lisa who’s taking care of all the homeless animals on Coldwater. Then I got Meredith from school and went to deliver a kennel, dog house, dog bowls and food to Milo, the 3 legged Feist. You know- every rescue situation has a story- well.. Milo is our story- We first heard about Milo, who at that point was unnamed, a few days after the tornado. His Mama called panicked because her house had been picked up off the foundation and deposited 30 feet behind the foundation. And her dog was NO WHERE to be seen. She kept calling… We tried to organize a search & rescue when we heard rumor he’d been found… or not… then we found out he was a 3 legged dog… still not found, but spotted near another destroyed house- oh and he doesn’t like men… ok he’s home… and a Feist, who’s name is Milo… at which point he became known totally as Milo-the-three-legged-feist. So he was chained to a tree… and his mama left him to go to her brother’s… and some “kind” soul released Milo-the-three-legged-feist and he ran away again… but this time he bit someone- hard. I think it was his mama’s brother. So Mama’s crying every few hours about her baby Milo(-the-three-legged-feist) and we’re all thinking that Milo-the-three-legged-feist was a bit of a danger to the community. So we try to convince Mama that Milo-the-three-legged-feist, should go to animal control, who is housing animals for tornado victims (I had thought about putting him with other fosterers, but with the biting problem decided AC was the only option)… but Mama won’t have anything to do with it- but does finally admit that Milo-the-three-legged-feist doesn’t have a collar and when he was tied to the tree it was with a slip knot (at which point I wanted to put a slip knot around HER neck and tie HER to a tree). So today Milo-the-three-legged-feist got a kennel, a dog house, food & water bowls and dog food. And hopefully he’ll be ok, and I won’t get any more weird phone calls.

BUT… in the process of delivering all this stuff, I turned into the wrong driveway and when I went to turn around I got stuck. Now, I’m pulling a stock trailer with about 2000 pounds worth of pet foods and paraphenalia in it- and I drive a 4wd Landcruiser, and have NEVER gotten stuck (and that thing goes in some weird places). But I miscalculated the amount of rain we’d had today and last night, and WORSE, what kind of mud it was… it was the kind that got into my tires and turned them completely smooth. I had absolutely nothing to grip with- that mud just filled in all the grooves and valleys in the tire tread.

After cussing a bit, a nice guy with a tractor pulled me out. I felt really sheepish as I NEVER do stupid things like get stuck in the mud. DOH!

From Milo-the-three-legged-feist we went to White Bluff, where a family was staying. This family, it turns out, was one of the first to get hit- and it was super serious. The great-grandmother, the grandmother (my age), the daughter and the grand-daughter (who’s 13) were all hiding in their home when the tornado struck and collapsed their home on top of them. One of their dogs, a 2 yr old Rottie, jumped on top of the 13 yr old, and that selfless act saved her life. Even with that act, she had a punctured lung, broken ribs and other injuries and has only now just gotten out of the hospital. The dog lived, altho was knocked out by debris and had to be dug out from under the debris, but if he hadn’t jumped on the top of that girl- she’d be dead. Their 13 yr old yellow lab also lived. The family is now living with a relative and they couldn’t bring the dogs there unless they had a kennel to keep them in (as the relative has dogs and didn’t want a fight). So, I delivered a Large kennel, 2 dog houses, 4 bowls, senior dog food, maintenance, and kat food – They had NO idea… and burst into tears. Gawd it was great to give a family that had been through so much and who’s dogs obviously LOVE them.

Mere & I came home, unhitched the horse trailer (only to find I have 2 flat- nay slashed- tires on my right side of the trailer- I must have done something when we got stuck in the mud…)- then I hitched up the flat bed, took Mere to the house where David & Towns were, and I went to my friend Mary Ann’s place. Mary Ann had arranged for a partial load of Bermuda to be delivered and I was buying some of that hay. It’s beautiful, altho my horses don’t seem to like bermuda ~especially after Llisa’s yummy orchard grass/timothy/clover/etc mix. But this bermuda was a great price (for right now) and the bales are 100# bales, so I feel I’m getting my money’s worth. I purchased 87 bales and they were stacked on my flatbed- but I don’t think I’m going anywhere with that hay… it’s over my pulling limit, so I think I’m going to have to get either another trailer or leave some hay and come back for it… I need to get about 20 bales off there or I risk hurting my engine…

I am hoping to give a bit of this stuff away. At least take a bite out of someone’s hay issues… the rest I’ll store and either use myself if I get low or will let friends buy off me for cost (plus a tank of gas or a bottle of french champagne- they cost the same, LOL).

So now it’s off to bed- the only other thing to report is taht I was denied by FEMA, but I expected that… they don’t pay for tree damage. I’m hoping a logger is coming out here next week and I can have the trees I lost logged…

Nite nite-
Vivi

Very productive day!

February 20, 2008

Things are really beginning to come together- and I am learning SO much. I’ve met neighbors I never knew I had (the problem with being slightly reclusive), cut thru incredible amounts of beaurocratic red tape to find out about grants and funding, and have met incredible people who are the volunteer effort behind this relief effort.

That said, we still have a few sticking points with Government agencies that aren’t responding like they should. One such agency would be our county D.A.R.T. (Disaster Animal Response Team), which on a National level is thru the HSUS (Humane Society of the US) and the USDA. This filters down to a state level, and I had called our State Director mid week last week, only to find our county D.A.R.T. had not been called to respond to the tornado. 2 days later, I received a call from the county D.A.R.T. co-director, a “horse woman” and high end equine farm real estate agent… She announced herself, asked for all my research and assessments on victims and then proceeded to tell me she had HAY! Well great I said- how do I get it to the victims? Her comment was “we’ll donate it to the neediest of victims, but everyone else has to pay $9.00/bale” – I almost choked- here is the disaster response team trying to make a profit on hay for tornado victims. GRRRRRR….

I sent her some info and asked if we could all meet after everything is all said and done to discuss what we need to do for the next disaster. She emailed me back, to let me know that the other co-director has gone in the field to talk with the victims and with: “Thank you. You have done good work. The system for animals in need has already been set up thru the State. It is call D.A.R.T. (Disaster Animal Response Team) Tony Fortner of Animal Control and I are Co-Directors in Williamson County.”

GRRRRR…

I wrote a comeback, never sent it, but have contacted the local news station which seems interested in this story. In the meantime, I’ve been contacting victims again- to find out better details of their situations- such as types of fencing needed, if hay is needed and what kind, etc. and NO ONE has been contacted by D.A.R.T. The really sad thing is that Tony Fortner lives in the effected area and knows many of the victims. The woman co-director is involved in the horse community and her real estate business is in this county… WHY they were not out on Wednesday Morning after the tornado helping the animals who were trapped in barns that fell on them, pull the trees off horses, move horses,cattle, goats and other animals that were in situations that could have been life threatening if they’d remained…

On another note, we’ve been able to get one cat safe, another one is almost on his way home. The first cat had been found after the tornado by a teacher up at the high school. The HS students took care of it for a while, and somehow one of them took it home for the weekend. I got a call on it on Saturday- it had been in a small cat carrier since Friday, and was very unhappy. And the “Mother” didn’t like it…
I went to pick it up, and when I got out of the car almost puked- I’ve never been in a YARD that stank of cat piss. It wreaked! There must have been 30 cats wandering around, the yard was trashed, there was a hatchet lying on the ground (I hate to think what that was for)- I knocked on the door and was handed the cat carrier. OF course it was unhappy- the poor cat wasn’t able to stand up and basically was lying in it’s own urine and feces. Hadn’t been allowed to eat either. I got the cat to Lisa, the lady on Coldwater who’s taking care of all the tornado victim animals. She put it in a small dog crate with a tiny cat pan and some food. I brought my XL dog crate on Sunday, and by that time the cat had been cleaned up, had used the kitty litter and had eaten some food & drank some water- it was no longer hissing at anyone who came near and instead was purring. We think the cat has a broken front leg, and possibly some face damage as it couldn’t eat dry food very well. Lisa was able to get a vet with animal control to look at it today- hopes it will be back here in a day or two…

the other cat is at Lisa’s and his mother may have a place to live temporarily. But she lost everything and couldn’t bring her cat home without a kitty litter box… Well, it so happened that a total stranger had walked up to me on Saturday, asked me who I was and then asked if I was the woman trying to help the animals who are tornado victims. I said I was, and she looked at me with big eyes and said “it’s all I can spare”, palmed me some money and walked away. Gosh- she palmed me a $20 bill – I was so touched. So when I heard about this cat and how his mom wanted to take him home… well, I went to PetsMart and found that they were having a disco sale (discontinued items)… which included cat litter boxes for 95 cents a piece, nice ceramic cat food/water bowls for $1.50 each, litter scoops, and a nice cat bed… so with the “extra” money, I bought a bag of litter for this woman, so she’s set to go! I brought it over to Lisa’s this afternoon and Carol showed up and nearly burst into tears when I gave it to her. She was so concerned I’d spent my own money, but I let her know about this kind stranger- and how at least one 4 legged tornado victim would soon be reunited with his family. Life is good…

Other victories today include:
UAN (United Animal Nations) has announced a grant for tornado victims
Merck has a disaster relief program which they’re using right now for Vets treating Tornado victims- it covers meds and supplies
American Veterinary Medical Association has a grant for Vets who treat tornado victims
Farm Aid has offered help on a case by case basis
United Way has set up the farm & animal fund and is issuing vouchers of up to $200 each – and the 3 farm supply places in Fairview are accepting them. These vouchers can be used for fencing, feed, or any other animal supplies… Vouchers are also issued for food, clothing, and household supplies.
We may have a trailer load of hay, round bales for cattle, coming in soon- we need to help pay for shipping and hope the United Way animal/farm fund will be able to help there.
We received a donation from PetsMart, which I will go pick up on Thursday (I think), and includes dog houses, cat litter, dog kennels, crates, etc.
Science Diet has donated 40 bags of dog food and 40 bags of cat food.

I’ve contacted AQHA as at least one of their members has been effected by the tornado. They were amazed (that I got thru I think!) and are going to look into aid.

Still trying to get to PRCA. Their website is AWFUL! I can’t click on the “committee” button and then get my cursor to the area where it says “contact”… yeesh!

So you can see, we’re just rock and rollin’ here… (and DART thinks they’re gonna come in and help, LOL! We got it going!)

Hugs to y’all- Vivi

And the work continues…

February 17, 2008

Well- It’s been quite a few days! First off, blessings and hugs to M’Lisa for the HUGE package that arrived yesterday from Country Supply. There were such wonderful items in it- like PROBIOTICS, cotton, bandages, wonder dust, halters and more! I’ve lost the order list (it’s been a few days of sheer insanity), but when I find it, I’ll post the whole schbeel. Thank you my dear – thank you –

There’s a horse down the street, a tree fell on her, and a limb punctured her ribcage – believe it or not, she’s alive and Lisa (her owner) hopes to bring her home tomorrow (along with her other two horses). The mare is still having wounds flushed and still needs medication, Lisa wants her home so she can take care of her.

I don’t know if I told you about my neighbor Lisa (she’s the one with the mare)- I believe she has MS. Just found out she’s a breast cancer survivor (altho both breasts were lobbed off-), her house was moved off the foundation in the tornado, the trees were so bad you couldn’t see the house thru the downed trees and limbs- Yet, she took in all the dogs & cats of her neighbors where the houses were totally demolished. She heats with a wood stove, and that first week after the tornado, when it would get cold at night, she would put a pot of water on for tea, and her bone weary, ice cold, in shock neighbors would come to her home. She’d sit them in front of the wood stove with a warm cup of tea, and slowly all the animals would come out and love on them. This woman- this woman who’d gone through so much herself, is an island of solace in this whole mess.

Today, thanks to Graceworks Ministries in Franklin, I loaded up David’s pickup truck with a dog kennel and filled that and any other space in the bed of the pick up truck with dog, puppy, cat, kitten, and horse food. And I went out into the community and started delivering. I had a reporter from Hills & Hamlets (www.hillsnhamlets.com) tagging along with me all day (actually the editor, and I don’t know how much reporting she got done as I put her to work). After the first few deliveries, I went to the local FEMA office so I could register for disaster aid. I don’t expect to get it, but my purpose was two-fold. First, by registering, I keep the numbers up and help keep FEMA in the area. Second, many of my poorer neighbors are very suspicious of anyone that doesn’t belong, especially government people. I wanted to be able to explain the process to them from a first hand experience & even though I will always be an outsider, maybe I can reach them and help them as I’m an accepted neighbor. While I was there, the local NBC affiliate showed up & taped me during my SBA loan application proces. Catherine, my tagalong/spare-set-of-hands-and-clear-brain, talked to them and told them what the community volunteers had been doing and specifically what I had been doing. Supposedly they’re going to interview me tomorrow. I hope they’ll publish Lisa’s story. She’s the kind of story I want to tell- the kind of person who humbles me.
After FEMA, we went to Green’s Chapel, a small rural community church. I didn’t realize how powerful a place it is. From the outside, the place doesn’t look like it would hold 10 people, but we went in the basement and found 25 women (mostly) finishing up preparing hot home-made meals to be delivered to the community. They served over 200 people today- the food consisted of country ham (delicious), brocolli with some sort of spicy sausage, macaroni and cheese, tuna sandwiches, creamed corn, breads galore, and most likely sweet tea. One thing people know how to do during a crisis or disaster is cook. Last weekend, the community (and churches) fed most of the volunteers and victims working in the area and put Red Cross to shame! The baked goods were unbelieveable. Around here, you have a disaster and GAIN WEIGHT! Chess Pie, Chocolate Chess Pie, Banana Pudding, Angel food cake, sheet cake, brownies, cookies, cobblers, fruit pies- jello (usually reserved for salads though). you name it…

Our purpose at Green’s Chapel was to get the word out about FEMA. And we made sure the boyscouts delivering the food got the word out.

Then we went to Lisa’s and delivered as much pet food as she could handle – I also brought her 3 halters & lead ropes for the horses she’s going to bring back home. I want to see if I can help her with fencing materials too- She was near tears with all the critter food donations- made me feel really good inside that we could help someone who was doing so much for her neighbors.

The remainder of the pet food went to the Tool Box, which has a warehouse out back where clothing/food/ etc donations have been going. As horrible as the tornadoes were, there are some really good things to have come out of them. on a personal note, I’ve gotten to know the community a whole lot better. I hadn’t realized that I really didn’t know anyone around here- as I’d become so reclusive.

Well, off to bed. Tomorrow we’re expecting storms- looks kind of rough in the Texas/Louisianna area… the news is claiming we aren’t supposed to get severe storms, but there is a wind advisory- which for us means that all the debris that’s been caught up in the trees might come crashing down (we’ve got a lot of metal roofing in our trees- that would hurt!).Or more limbs could crash down (widow makers).

Nite and thanks to all of you- Vivi

Update on Tornado relief

February 17, 2008

It’s late & I’m tired, but I wanted you all to know that Williamson
county & 7 other counties have just been declared federal disaster
areas! Woo Hooo- Now my friends & neighbors can get FEMA trailers 🙂
(I’m being serious- they can now get places to stay in while their
homes are repaired & replaced!). I am now spearheading the
farm/livestock/animal relief… the Red Cross has been giving out my
cell phone number to everyone in creation! Verizon has kindly donated
about a thousand minutes to the cause.
We are trying to get a volunteer fencing effort up this weekend.
Anyone want to come help, please feel free 🙂
My wards are ok- the fields are a mess (too many horses, lots of rain)
but since we’re currently getting snow (thanks a heap Mary! LOL)…
Scottie has moved to Peppy’s- I’ll bring her mares over next week.
WE’ve had lots of people offer pasture for horses, but most everyone’s
taken care of. The other immediate needs are 1)fencing supplies;
2)building supplies; 3)hay (see below).
I’ll let you know if we need anything else- and please, if you know of
anyone with hay that can be shipped in, please let me know- or have
them contact me directly- tn2nadoes@yahoo.com

Went to an organizational meeting last night- I’m going to try and become a VOAD member (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster); and after this is all said and done, I’m going to apply for (and study for) DART certification (Disaster Animal Response Team).

For anyone who wants to donate money, you can send donations (tax deductible) to: Fairview Tornado & Storm Relief/Animal Needs, United Way, 209 Gothic Court, Franklin, TN 37067. Please make sure the check is designated for Fairview Tornado & Storm Relief/Animal Needs. Otherwise it goes into the general pool and we’re the low man on the totem pole…

Or direct donations can be made to:

Williamson County Farmer’s Coop, Fairview Branch, 1702 Fairview Blvd.
Fairview, TN 37062-9101, Craig Byrd, manager
Phone: (615) 799-4100
Fax: (615) 799-4115

Farm Depot, Gary Bonn, 1880 Fairview Blvd
Fairview, TN 37062
(615) 799-0676

TSC, Fairview Store, 2320 Fairview Blvd
Fairview, TN 37062
(615) 799-1935

PLEASE make sure any checks are designated for Tornado Relief/Animal & Farm supplies. I am supplying lists of those in need to these stores so the donations can go to those in need.

Hay … we need hay… and a place to put it…

Thanks- Vivi

Aftermath, Day 5

February 11, 2008

Today, I saw firsthand how incredible are the disaster relief teams of the Church of Christ and the Baptist Ministries. These teams came into the area, sent out advanced people to identify needs, and then showed up to deal with situations. Most of the relief was in the form of cutting down trees, removing debris, bulldozing, etc. Unfortunately, a lot of the insurance adjusters haven’t finished their work, so many people had to turn away this incredible offer of assistance.

Here’s a figure… My twins’ class is 23 kids. Of that, at least 7 have had life altering experiences with this tornado. Of those 7, many have no houses. The rest of the kids in the class have been effected by their friends, neighbors, family who’ve become victims.

Scottie has a place to live. There are some wonderful people with big hearts around here- Peppy & David are two of them.

My husband, David, spent the day in Fernvale helping a friend put tarps on his roof. We’re expecting rain starting tomorrow (storms on Tuesday!), and the temps have already plummeted. David brought the dogs in- it could get down to 16 in the next few days- Considering it’s been in the 50’s & 60’s with nice nights, well, that’s a big dip. For those people living in their homes without roofs, well, this is gonna be a cold week. The wind is frightfully nippy.

I was able to make contact with the Fairview Volunteer Tornado Relief. I’ve agreed to head up the Agricultural/Farm Relief team (consists of me so far… that will change, LOL). The Baptist Church, while out identifying needs, have been asked to also identify farms with immediate and longer term needs. There is money, volunteers, equipment and supplies being donated to help put farms back together. The most immediate concern, I believe, is to make sure fences are secured so livestock is safe.

I’m bushed. And Townsend starts a new school tomorrow. It will be an early day for me!

Aftermath, Day 4

February 10, 2008

15 horses is a lot to care for. A lot of horses is right! I’ve currently got them split up, my 8 in one pasture (poor pasture), Scottie’s 4 in another (and I need to pull 2 of them out seperately as the alpha mare won’t let them eat, heck won’t let them sneeze without her blessing!), the pony mare in one paddock, and the two quarter horses in another small paddock. The pony mare & the two qh haven’t been wormed and I want to keep them seperated from either Scotties or my horses. some of these horses are young, some have never been fully trained and are older (the perch mares), some are elderly and have special needs… All are still coming down from the adrenaline of the tornado, the changes in their farms, and then being moved where there are killer pigs and horse eating turkeys… At least the two qh’s aren’t jumping out of their skins anymore when either a pig grunts or the turkey gobbles.

Today feels like I didn’t get much accomplished- but in reality, everyone got tons accomplished. Feeding took longer than expected, but that was because I had “help”. Corbin, one of the twin’s classmates and a tornado victim, came home with the twins on their school bus and spent the night. He talked a lot about the tornado, said it was actually 3 tornadoes -he saw them as they smashed into his house- another adult friend confirmed there were at least 2 tornadoes that hit this area simoultaneously and very close to each other. From the way the damage is, even on our property, it looks like there was one large/wide tornado and a narrow one. That would explain why we heard freight trains, silence and freight trains.

Corbin talked about his Granny and Pawpaw and that their house was demolished (he was in their basement). He talked about how his barn was destroyed, how his Aunt Kelsey lost all her tack and her horse was impaled. I wrote to the Horse Group:

Turns out Kelsey’s Rodeo Queen Horse, Quest, WASN’T
buried under her barn, like I thought. Instead, the tornado destroyed
the barn around him and CARRIED him about 200yds, depositing him on a
bunch of debris- I don’t know if he got impaled by projectiles in the
tornado itself, or if he landed on broken barn wood and got impaled,
but when they found him he was almost frozen in place with all 4 feet
spread out, nostrils wide, eyes wider and shaking like a leaf. But
not moving an inch. Because the vet couldn’t get out htere and they’d
lost everything & it was night time, they patched him the best they
could with duct tape. It must have worked because they think he’s
going to come out fine… Unbelievable!

The psychological damage from this tornado, on both humans and animals, is going to take a long long time to get over. I know my kids, who came out of this unscathed and in a solid house, are emotional wrecks. There’s been LOTS of tears, lots of incredible sadness, a lot of possessiveness (as if they’re afraid something’s going to be ripped away from them), a lot of wanting Mama… a LOT of wanting Mama. Balancing helping those who need physical hands on help, and my kids’ emotional and psychological needs has been a challenge. It will be really interesting on Monday night/Tuesday night, as we’re expecting storms again (although at this point we’re not expecting bad storms).

I was able to take 2 big boxes of clothes to the collection center, and I also stopped by the High School and registered as a volunteer “with special talents.” That meant that I had a stock trailer and was capable of moving livestock, especially horses. I also signed up for vet help. I know my vet has been traveling around without his vet tech (she’s gone in a different direction trying to help as many people as possible), so I’m assuming I signed up to help him should he need an extra set of hands.

I really think I need to take an Animal First Responder course. I think there’s one offered every once in a while at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington…
Scottie and her sister showed up right as I was getting ready to hitch up the trailer and head to her house. Like everyone else, she’s had an over abundance of volunteers (nameless ones) today, and she finally had to run them off as they were starting to dismantle stuff her insurance agent still needed to look at. Scottie and her sister, Emma, finally had to leave and get some fresh scenery (and use a bathroom with real running water, not a portajohn). So they came to my place. After a welcome potty break and some serious hand scrubbing, we had some tea and sat on the sofa, and Scottie just started talking… getting everything off her chest. I just let her talk.
She eventually decided she’d talked enough, and wanted to go see her girls. So we all took a walk. We saw her horses, who were really glad to see her. We walked over to the barn and Emma met Scottie’s turkey, Alfred E. Newman. And Opie, our obnoxiously friendly goat, introduced himself to everyone (while hiding from the Dreadful Goat Eating Turkey). I showed Scottie and Emma the other horses that were tornado victims. Then I introduced Emma to my horses, the pigs, the other goat, the carriage barn (Emma is a horse lady as well)… we went up to the top pasture and she saw the 4 cargo containers with hay (THANK GOD I got extra hay!), we walked toward the back of the property and I showed them the swath the tornado cut out of our woods… and that we’ll turn it into another pasture eventually. Scottie had not seen all the additional fencing I had done to the west pasture, and that I’d actually turned it into two pastures, so we walked that way and half way down to the livestock pond. As it was getting late, we turned around and came back home. Scottie and Emma had to go.
That pretty much shot my work day, so I got Corbin, we went over to the barn and convinced Alfred E. Newman to go into a stall for the night (there’s a fox wandering around, who’d just LOVE his very own Thanksgiving Dinner!). Then we headed over to Corbin’s house-
It was amazing! The mass of twisted metal, downed trees, siding, and building material was mostly cleaned up everywhere. There were brush fires all over the place- an eerie sight against the dusky sky. Big tarps on houses, the Hughes house was tarped so well it looked like someone had wrapped it in blue paper as a present! Just needed a bow!
So I guess my contribution to the clean up today was to hug a young tornado victim, to keep him safe and sound so his Mom and Grandparents could clean up their disaster area, to listen to an older lady work out her emotions over losing everything, and to care for these animals who went through the worst storm of their lives.
I was also able to start working on tracking down hay for the farmers who lost all their hay- all the horse owners who’s hay was blown to smithereens. The Wonderful People at SOS Rescue have started sending items- everything from clothing to halters, wormer, vet tape, equine medicines. A few have started a hay fund, so we can afford hay for those without, and another group is working to get materials and supplies for fencing and building together.
What a great bunch of people there are in this world!

The Tennessee Tornado

February 9, 2008

the trees are goneOn Tuesday, February 5, 2008, around 9:30 at night, the TV news reported a tornado was heading right at us. The lights went out, the Tornado Siren in Fairview sounded, and we ran to our basement.

We knew the storms were going to be serious and had already filled all the water containers, gotten out the flashlights (including the wind up variety) and the emergency candles. We’d put our laptops in bags, as they held lots of important information, gotten our id’s and other portable valuables, and our cameras, keys, cell phones and food and taken all that to the basement. We brought our dogs in.

And then we heard what sounded like 100 freight trains. Silence. Then the freight trains again.

A few minutes later, it was over. We went back upstairs, and from inside the house there seemed to be no problems. David went out and found a tree had fallen- luckily away from the house. As it was pitch black, raining and very windy, it was hard to see much of anything, but we realized a tornado had passed by- close by. The cell phones started ringing, and we found that our neighbors had lost their houses. David went out to look for our horses, as they were in the top pasture- David found them all huddled at the gate to the barn pasture. He had to move some branches, and then opened the gate, letting the horses in.

Our friend, Amy, and her two children came over. And none too soon as another tornado producing storm showed up. We hit the basement again. By now it’s 12:30 am on Wednesday. The children were exhausted and running on fumes… Townsend and Bree fell asleep on the basement floor, in sleeping bags. Amy took Cydney upstairs to Meredith’s bed, David stretched out on the sofa and Meredith & I went up to David’s & my bed. We tried to sleep. I had a wind up radio that I kept listening, thank goodness, because at 2 am another storm came through. Meredith & I were up like a flash, Mere waking Amy, and I attempted to wake David. Back down to the basement while the wind whipped and the lightning flashed. Suddenly the hail started hitting the roof, sounding like baseballs being thrown against glass. The wind was blowing so hard, I was afraid the basement doors were going to blow open. By 2:45 it was over. Amy took Cydney back upstairs, Meredith had fallen asleep on the basement floor with the other two, so I crawled back into my bed… alone (David was back on the sofa)… and fell into a restless sleep.

The phone started ringing again around 6:30 am. Friends checking in, making sure we were ok- we started calling people too- unfortunately, not all were OK- there were many homes lost, including two of my best friends’ homes, and barns. We, luckily, only had tree damage- about 100 trees on 10 acres gone. A new pasture? We also had some fences down. Minor stuff in comparison to the damage around us. The tornado came within a football field of us.

As of that afternoon, we had the generator going, and I sent the following update to some horse rescue friends:

still in shock, and generator not working well, so this will be quick-
we’re ok. critters are ok- it came really really close- I’ve got pix,
lots of neighbors without homes right now, including two of my best
friends. Got 4 of Scotties horses here (2 perch mares and 2 half
draft mares), my boys are loving it! back end of my property is
really damaged, about 10 acres of woods gone (approx 100 large old
trees). Fences down, but this stuff is minor. I’m still not sure of
the exact measurements, but we live on a 70 acre farm, home is in teh
middle of the farm, and we’re surrounded by farms and small acreage
tracts (5 acre min) on 3 sides.
I’ve been in tears this afternoon for all my friends and neighbors.
And it wasn’t just trailers (altho quite a few trailers got hit), but
brick homes, log homes, big homes, little homes, well built homes,
badly built homes- this tornado was not picky. Quite a few homes just
gone. NOthing left but the foundation.

http://tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=DN&Date=20080206&Category=NEWS0\
1&ArtNo=802060805&Ref=PH

(if that doesn’t work, go to tennessean.com, I think it’s on the front
page).

The pics of Fairview are within a half mile of my home. some closer.
The ones of Randy Hughes’ place, well that’s one of my best friends-
their horse, Quest, was hurt pretty badly (he’s the horse that has
carried Randy & Jackie’s youngest daughter to all the Rodeo Queen
contests- Kelsy just ended her term as Miss Teen TN Rodeo Queen).
Pinewood Elementary is where the kids go… or went… who knows. it’s
3 miles from the house by car, about a mile and a half as a crow flies.

I’ve got photos- I’ll get them uploaded when I can, but thought you’d
want to see what my poor neighbors have gone thru. Tomorrow is
another day, we’re going to hitch the trailer again and go help where
we can- LOTS of loose livestock. My vet has been calling me and
telling me where I need to go…

Colorado is looking pretty good.

Global climate change has physically MOVED tornado alley about 500
miles east. Damned glad I have a good strong basement. I hope none
of us ever have to go thru this again…

By Wednesday night, we finally had electricity- and we got showers! My email to the horse group:

I’m sitting here exhausted to the bone, with electricity on (woo hoo),
listening to one of the local news channels trying to raise money for
the tornado victims. I’m slowly uploading pictures to my picasa site
(I’ll send the info later), some of which were taken as it got dark,
so they really didn’t come out too well. I’ll redo them tomorrow.

Your outpouring of concern and wanting to help has been incredible.
What really is amazing is that I’ve had more concern from all of you
than I have had from my own family – but better than that, you all
UNDERSTAND what is going on- You all are so compassionate and
empathetic, and that has really been such a big help.

David & I have cancelled everything we had planned for tomorrow- the
kids’ don’t have school tomorrow either (power is still out, the
school is on a well, and there are still so many trees down the school
bus can’t run). We’re going to get out early and start helping our
friends and neighbors…

This is what is going on:

Scottie, who lives 4 miles due west of us and who’s home and barn was
demolished, is receiving PODS tomorrow. Her insurance has arranged
for people to come and pack up her house and move her out. They have
also arranged for any furniture that obtained damage to be fixed
and/or restored. Scottie has lots of antiques (family pieces). A
friend of hers has lent her a pick up truck (Scottie’s truck was late
80’s model Ford F250- not worth much in terms of insurance). Our
friend, Peppy (who’s husband is the vet) has offered for Scottie to
move over to her farm- Peppy’s currently not living there as her
children go to school in town and they couldn’t take the back and
forth traveling. So, she has a friend check her horses daily (and
feed them), and she & her family have moved into a rental house they
own that was empty. She’s also leased a barn closer to were she
lives, with a few friends, so that their kids can ride daily. So her
farm home is empty (they go out on weekends and it’s where my friends
& I ride from for our long long rides) and we’re trying to talk
Scottie into moving there until she either rebuilds or figures out
what to do –
In the meantime, I’m worried about Scottie, as she insisted on
spending the night at her house tonight to keep the looters out. It’s
gotten quite cold (it was a bitter 42 – very damp with a stiff wind-
and is dropping down into the low 30’s tonight)- she claims to have a
-30 degree sleeping bag. Stubborn lady!
Tomorrow, I’m going to go over to her place and load up some of her
hay. Her hay has gotten wet, so she needs to use it asap, and since I
have 4 of her horses, I’m going to feed it to them and mine, until
it’s gone, then go back to LLisa’s wonderful hay. You’ll see from the
photos I’ve downloaded, there are barns full of hay, but no roof!
David is heading out with the chainsaw, going to people’s houses to
help out more- we’ve also got the 4wheeler and tractor ready for
anyone. I’ll check back in with my vet and see if there is anyone
else that needs to have their horses temporarily boarded.

Now I’m going to go to bed. I am worried about my friends, my
neighbors- I may try to take food and water around to some of the
people who are trying to dig out.

thank you all so very much for everything. Wish you were all here to
help out- but don’t worry, this isn’t going to be cleaned up in a few
days, so we’ll just expect you all to show up soon 🙂

Thursday, I posted to the group the following, entitled, The Aftermath, Day 2:

It’s really beginning to hit people hard- what has happened. My
friends and neighbors, who yesterday were on autopilot and in shock,
are now starting to break down. Tears are flowing, hands are shaking,
the stress of trying to cope and the emotional meltdown caused by lack
of sleep are starting to appear.

It’s also amazing how this community bands together. By the time I
got to Scottie’s today, she’d already had people helping her-
including an eye doctor who was just driving by and got out of his car
to help load hay.

We got all the hay out of what was left of her stalls- and also got
all the salvegable bales out of the fields- Some of the latter are a
bit wet, but I’ve got them set aside so they might dry out- some of
the partially busted bales I brought back too, and just pushed them
out on the horses. Scottie’s horses are settling in, although this
morning as I was feeding, they suddenly stood rock still, ears
forwards, and then they slowly started sliding in until they were all
snuggled up tight- Yup… they had never seen pigs before! It was
funny, especially as they didn’t freak out, just became a mass of
horse. It also turns out the goats had never seen a turkey before, as
they both hid behind me, peaking out around my legs. I wish I’d had a
camera.

We got Scottie’s barn cleaned out- Peppy took 3 trailer loads home, I
brought a flat bed full of hay back here, Camille is going to bring a
truck load of feeds and stuff. This weekend, after the insurance
agent has gone back thru the barn and pastures, I’m going to pick up
what is left of any coral panels- this will allow me to paddock off
more land, and get her horses split up. One of the mares is extremely
alpha and really doesn’t like an elderly mare- keeps running her off
the hay- even when I spread it out.

The moving company is packing up Scottie’s house. Furniture and
belongings that are in good shape are put in storage after being
packed. A furniture restorer has been called to clean and restore the
antiques that have water and debris damage. Some art work that was
damaged is going to be seen by a specialist (the restorer told Scottie
she needed to get the art work in the freezer immediately as that
would prevent the water from doing any more damage?!?) Scottie is an
emotional mess- but I’m glad to see her crying. She needs to let it
out. She’s decided to stay with friends tonight, a good thing as she
didn’t get any sleep last night in her frigid broken home. She’ll
also get a shower and some hot food. My friend Ruth (who’s in my food
coop, as is Scottie) has been bringing her hot meals- homemade soups,
stews, and tea… I brought peanutbutter & jelly sandwhiches, bananas
and ginger snaps… went home with no food- I think it’s because the
pb&j’s are easier to eat while working…

I couldn’t get to the Hughe’s today- the sherriff has the road
closed- I’m going to go down there tomorrow with a horse trailer as
Randy thinks his horse & ponies should come here. He does now have a
tarp on his house, and says his daughter’s trailer should be fixed up
pretty soon.

Other neighbors are now tarped too- we’ve been lucky as the weather
has been holding- while it was grey and very windy yesterday, it was
gorgeous today (I’m sunburned). It’s going to continue to be nice
until maybe Weds night of next week when there is a slight chance of
SNOW!

David spent the day working on our place- with the chain saw and
tractor- He was joined by Buddy, the farmer who has his cattle on our
place and our neighbor’s place. Our neighbor’s fencing is gone- under
all those trees in my photos- so Buddy has rigged up a new fence along
the property line, and has put his cattle on my property for the time
being. I had put in fencing and cross fencing, creating 3 pastures,
all with gates and water lines- so the cattle are going to be rotated.
Buddy wants to timber the trees that fell- I’ve called the insurance
to find out what to do and it was suggested I get a certified arborist
out to estimate what was lost. The end result will be a 4th pasture,
and we’ll run a water line out there too- I am looking for someone to
help me with some fencing- and I think the contractor we’ve been using
might help- he came out and helped unload all the hay today- he’s been
going around to all the people in the area, chainsaw in hand, just
helping out where he can.

Llisa, thanks for offering Ed, but I’m not sure what he could do- The
community has really pitched in- most everyone here has family and
friends to stay with -in fact, the Red Cross is not setting up a
shelter as the people who’ve lost homes have moved in with family and
friends. Scottie, who’s a New England transplant like me (ok, for all
you purists out there, I’m a PA transplant, not a New Englander,
yeeesh! giggle), has had more offers of places to stay- we’ve offered
her our guest room (with windows overlooking her horses)- I think
she’s going to take Peppy up on her offer to stay at Peppy’s farm
indefinetly. I’ll bring her mares to be with her there-

School starts back tomorrow- I really hope there is going to be
counseling for the kids- There are only 105 kids in the school, and a
few no longer have homes. Almost all the kids have been effected in
some way-

Thank you all for offering help, there are a few people without
insurance- I can find out who they are and see what we as a group can
do for them… There’s been quite a lot of money raised in the Middle
TN area, the Red Cross is doing quite a lot too – And our Governor
just requested Federal Aid, declaring the tornado damage throughout TN
a disaster area. The kids’ school is setting up as a clearing house,
by identifying those in need and matching them to help. I’m going to
register tomorrow for any kind of help I can offer.

Today, Friday, I posted this, under the heading, Tornado Aftermath, Day 3:

Hi Y’all-

Wadda day! I now have 3 more equines here- another 2 yr old filly
(qh), an unknown age qh gelding, and an aged pony mare. It was
interesting bringing them here, as they came from the Hughes farm-
The tornado had carried the pony mare about 150 feet and OVER a 5 foot
fence into another pasture. But she’s doing well- altho she’s got
cushings and needs a hoof trim. The other two are unharmed, but
shaken up. And they’d never seen potbellied pigs, goats or HORSE
EATING TURKEYs before! It’s the turkey that really has them on edge,
LOL. In fact, every time the turkey puffs up and struts his stuff,
Billie Holidoe jumps a foot high!

Most of the trees on the roads are gone- I got some pix of the clean
up and will post them on the picasa site later -David just took the
camera to go see what Fernvale looks like. Fernvale is an historic
Valley about 5 miles east of us (we jokingly call ourselves Fernvale
Heights, or West Fernvale). It was originally a turn of the last
century restort area complete with natural mineral springs. The old
Fernvale Inn & resort burned in the 19teens I think, and was
“forgotten” for a while- because of that, it has grown very little,
has lovely views and is a favorite of bicyclists – It had a historic
church from pre-civil war area that exploded during the tornado (from
the increased pressure during the tornado). They still don’t have
electricity out there, so we’ve been sharing our showers with our
friends from there.

I’ve been on the phone with the local news. I contacted them after
hearing that Williamson County wasn’t one of the counties to receive
federal aid. Bush has been touring the state. Well, it seems that
our county hasn’t applied for disaster aid. The news has taken this
and is running with it. David just called and the news is up on
Coldwater road right now- the web site is: wsmv.com and the first
local news is on right now. I’m assuming this story will appear in an
hour… Hopefully this will get the people here the help they deserve.

In the meantime, the school is acting as a clearing house for aid-
we’re trying to figure out who has been effected and to what extent,
and then also coordinate outside aid. We’re also setting up a
Fairview Tornado relief fund, and once it’s up and running I’ll let
you know about it. At this point, I know of 3 people who were without
insurance and who lost everything. Unfortunately, the real estate
taxes have gone up so much around here many old timers and very poor
people can’t afford to pay both the taxes and insurance. My friends,
the Hughes, are being (for lack of a better term) dicked over by their
insurance. The insurance is refusing to cover the horse trailer
(they’d been paying insurance on it), won’t cover the tractors,
fencing, and don’t want to give them much of anything for their brick
house that was moved off it’s foundation and suffered massive water
damage after the roof was ripped off it by the tornado. GRRRRR…
They also aren’t covering any of the tack lost (Kelsey was the TN
Rodeo Queen and her show saddle was demolished- can’t even save the
silver conchos)- She can’t find any of her headstalls, halters,
blankets or anything. She’d worked at Farmer’s Coop last summer and
used her employee discount to purchase new show items. GRRRRR!

If anyone has any QH sized rope (cowboy)halters she could use them.
It’s not an emergency as 2 of her horses are here, the other is at her
uncle’s where she can tend his wounds (Think Alcina’s old man’s
wounds- except an artery wasn’t cut, by the grace of God!). Anyway,
Kelsey could use 5 QH sized halters and leads.

Wormer is also on the list of things needed. I’m going to contact
Country Supply and see if they might donate a bunch of Zimecterin
Gold. I’m also going to contact Blue Ridge Botanicals and see if they
can donate some acidolpholus and horse cookies.

That’s about all I can think of right now- I’m dog dead tired and
dirty- ahhhh… calgon take me away!

Cheers and Thank you everyone for sendign out letters – I am
hoping/praying it will help.

I will continue to post about the tornado clean up here. About the brave residents of Fairview TN. About the amazing community we live in.

stories

February 8, 2008

I have set this up to relay the stories that are happening all around me. The first is about the Tornadoes that hit Middle TN on February 5, 2008.