Another day in the life…

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

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