Archive for the ‘Feb 5 2008 tornadoes’ Category

Short stuff

May 29, 2008

A lot has been going on here- everything from grants becoming available, to used telephone poles being held for tornado victims to loggers, loggers everywhere. Everywhere except here. Seems the loggers I had originally signed up decided, with the cost of fuel and the back log of people waiting on them, that they couldn’t handle my 7 acres of downed trees. And now all the other loggers are so jammed packed with work they can’t get to me. Ho hum… Things will work out.

On the critter front, Rollo & Bud have started gaining weight. That’s a nice feeling as I was getting worried with how skinny they were. The vet did look at them and agreed that they were both stressed out- still- and it would just take patience and time to get the weight on them. I had tried giving them alfalfa cubes, but I really think Bud is allergic to alfalfa… When he eats it he really starts itching and scratching and breaking out. Counter productive to trying to fatten him up. But the grass has come in and he’s now on it with Rollo- they seem to get along just fine. Two old men just living it up!

Scottie found a beautiful place in Jamestown TN, up near the Big South Fork National Park. It’s a perfect place for her- although it’s a million miles from a lemon! Peppy (bless her) and I loaded up Scottie’s 5 horses in our two trailers, and took them up there last Tuesday. Or was it a week ago? Time flies! It was an incredibly long, long drive and my poor tow vehicle wasn’t too thrilled about hauling those enormous half drafts up the Cumberland Plateau. I do so need a diesel truck. and I so can’t afford it. Anyway, we got the horse up there, along with the rest of Scottie’s stuff that Peppy & Rick had so kindly packed in her and my trailers the day before. Scottie is now thrilled and Peppy is glad her horses are there.

Other than that, it’s been quiet- ok not quiet as I’ve been dealing with end of school stuff for both kids, and Mere is getting ready for a schooling cross country event. Her first. I have no idea how we’re going to get, then KEEP, Thomas clean. I think I’m going to have to invest in some sleezy sleepwear for the boy. He’ll look like SUPERMAN! Poor pony puts up with so much. He’s just a blessing. And so patient with me & Meredith.

We’ve had lots of rain… a good thing as we’re now no longer in drought conditions here (altho the ground is still suspect). I’m hoping we’re going to have a wet summer. This area could really use it. Just no more tornadoes!

Benefit for Tornado Victims

April 9, 2008

This Saturday, April 12, at the Fairview Rec Center. Posters that are high quality print ready PDF @ http://caneyfork.com/whirlwind.pdf

The sounds of chain saws

March 10, 2008

It’s ironic… last summer I complained long and hard because a neighbor was having his land timbered. Starting in April (I think), the chain saws and heavy machinery would start their engines at 6:00 am and as it was just down the hill, it was loud. I shuddered every time a tree fell (for that matter, the earth shuddered).

Well, during the tornadoes, this neighbor had very little tree damage. Your’s truly with her high and mighty tree hugging ideals had a LOT of tree damage. And now the chain saws are back. 6:00 am. buzzing away for most of the day.

The country is not a quiet place- at least not anymore. Between chain saws and tractors and 4 wheelers the sounds of machines are everywhere. Then there is the sound of nature. Nature is NOISY. The birds start before the sun comes up, wind whips thru the trees, horses neigh, roosters crow… Back in the day, when we had peafowl, we were the scourge of the neighborhood, as my peacock would “cry” at odd times throughout the day, starting early. A peacock’s cry sounds like a woman screaming. It’s eerie!

At night, the noises continue- birds give their final squawks, wind in the trees, owls hooting or fighting, then the coyotes start howling. During calving season we really keep an ear out for the coyotes- they know when a cow is down, and at her most vulnerable.

Summer nights, add to the noise, the cacophony of crickets and frogs. I often don’t sleep well in summer from all that noise. Plus the air is thick. Faulkner always found a way to make a southern summer sound sultry and sexy (a little alliteration anyone?)- for me, it’s oppressive- especially when you add to the heat and noise the smells. The heavy perfume of a Magnolia- the smell is thick like syrup.

Ahhh… but summer is not near, yet. In fact, winter has not gone, yet. Friday we got snow- lots and lots of snow- by Saturday morning, there was over 4 inches on the ground. Kids got breakfast and then dug out their ski pants, jackets and gloves- raced to the garage and found their sleds and whooped it up all morning. I grabbed the camera and explored the beauty- deep long shadows in the snow- heavy wet snow on branches, jonquils peaking up thru the snow, creeks coming to life as the snow melted. And my horses- they were so happy- we played and played and played- even as it slowly turned to mud and muck.

All in all, we needed that- a complete release from the emotional impact of the tornadoes. Maybe, now that I’m a bit refreshed, I can start to refocus on helping those who need it. And stop focusing on how our government is denying claims left and right, and not helping anyone. It is sad to think that the government we all pay our taxes to, the government who is supposed to be kind and generous to people in need- and seems to help those in other countries- ignores it’s own. The heart is gone from this country- although I have to admit, the people on a local level are incredible.

And so it goes. FEMA seems to be a dismal failure, insurance companies (with a few exceptions) are a joke (or worse, corrupt)… It’s not like the people who are asking for help are expecting to have their lives converted or life long handouts. For the most part, these are hard working, honest people. They just want the system to work. The insurance they paid for to pay them when there is a problem, the government they voted for/they paid taxes to, to help instead of saying “oh you had insurance so we don’t help you”- but what the hey- the insurance isn’t paying- these people are getting screwed by everyone.

It’s amazing to read, or even be told by FEMA, that the only way we’re going to get help is through the Faith Based and Volunteer Community Groups. If this is the case, why did FEMA even appear? Photo ops? Feel good press? Well, all it did was tick off the people who needed the help and didn’t get it.

And why the press isn’t picking up on this really stymies me. As one friend says, if you really want to see what’s going on in the US, read the European or New Zealand Newspapers. Hmmm….

End of rant! (at least for today)

A little levity and a little karma

March 1, 2008

This is the conversation I just had with The Horse:

Dear All,

For over 3 weeks, I have been working hard in Williamson County, TN trying to find support and funding for farms and animals effected by the tornadoes that ripped through here on Feb. 5 & 6 (please see Article # 11360). There has been little laughter and a lot of tears.

So, I cannot begin to tell you just how much I appreciated reading the article “What’s New in Horse Trailers” when my new issue of The Horse came in the mail today. Especially after the tornadoes, I have begun to realize that my 16 foot custom stock trailer isn’t enough. I really need a gooseneck, and a truck to go with it. And so, I read your article with great interest. I was fascinated to read that “steel is easier to repair; holds its shape under duress (tinsel strength)…” Tinsel strength? And from there, I got the giggles. 3+ weeks of stress, trauma, frustration and exhaustion were erased with the thought of fancy show horses being carried around in sparkely Christmas decorations!

Thank you- I needed that laugh-

Vivi Miller

ps- the phrase you’re looking for is TENSILE STRENGTH of which one Wikipedia definition is:
The maximum stress a material can withstand.


And I received a WONDERFUL reply- just got to love the great folks at The Horse!

Hi Vivi

While we’re glad to give you a laugh, we deserve 50 lashes with wet tinsel left over from the holidays!

Thanks for letting us know. We’ll fix it in the archive.

Keep up the good work!

Kim

Kimberly S. Brown

Editor-in-Chief

The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care

PO Box 919003

Lexington, KY 40591-9003

Without humor, I’d be sunk! So, many thanks to all of you who keep me laughing and help me realize the wonderful things that have come from this tragedy- because even though this has been a horrible ordeal, there have been some incredible moments- I’ve met some incredible people- both on the internet and even my own neighbors that I didn’t know. There are blessings.

That said, yesterday I ran into one of the survivors. She has had a rough time as her mother sold the family house, and they had bought some brand new double wides to put on a really pretty piece of property they had. The double wides had just been delivered but not set up and the tornado destroyed them. Short version is that the mobile home manufacturer is claiming this woman and her mother owe them for the trailers, FEMA isn’t helping at all because they weren’t “displaced” (they had rented the family house until the end of February, but now have to move out) and as the trailers hadn’t been set up and weren’t able to be lived in, this lady hadn’t put insurance on them – anyway, it’s a mess. Her grandfather’s farm was destroyed in the tornado and she was concerned about the animals getting out. So I was trying to help her find fencing supplies and hay.

I received a phone call from a wonderful man, a farmer, who lives in this area, who had just finished replacing ALL his cattle fencing. And in doing so, had carefully rolled the old fencing up, stacked the posts, and had 2 unused rolls of barbed wire. So I called the lady and asked if she & her grandfather could use USED materials, and she said yes- so I put the nice farmer and this lady in touch with eachother.

Turns out, years and years ago, the lady’s stepfather had been extremely kind to this nice farmer after he had roof damage from a storm on some of his buildings. He had shown compassion and had reached out to help. This act of kindness wasn’t forgotten by the farmer, and that is why he reached out to help after the tornado, not realizing until the lady called him that she was the step-daughter of the very man who’d helped him years and years ago. I had no idea when I paired the farmer with the lady. But the story gave me goosebumps!

Yes, there is Karma. And it is good.

Vivi

exhaustion sets in

March 1, 2008

along with the stomach flu going around my house. I’ve taken to not being anywhere near my family- sad state of affairs! But between David & the kids all acting like volcanoes, well, do you blame me?

Over the past few days, I’ve done some mental gymnastics to try and find out how response time and agencies can respond better. To date, I have heard no complaints about the first responders- the fire department, medics, police etc who arrived on the scene and started looking for people immediately after the tornadoes came through. And I’ve also found out that DART WAS on the scene, but cleverly disguised as Animal Control (if I’m repeating myself, forgive me- it’s been a really long long long few weeks). Therefore, no one actually knew that their animal was being rescued by the actual agency that was supposed to do the rescuing.

so my first suggestion is to make sure that agencies are identifiable.

Then, I was told that DART didn’t get to all the large animals because they didn’t know there was a need. Hmmm… Well, that’s because:
1) the tornado victims were traumatized
2) the tornado victims didn’t have electricity or phone service
3) the tornado victims didn’t know who to call – animal control deals with small animals, who do you call for large animals?
4) cell phone coverage is spotty under normal circumstances- with towers down a lot of cell services just didn’t work.
5) there was mass confusion and a lot of roads were just closed due to trees either across them or trees that uprooted entire sections of road.

so my next suggestion is that the agencies that are supposed to be first responders NEED to get out into the community and let the people know who they are, how they can be reached and what to do in an emergency. There needs to be some sort of way to communicate too- for human emergencies people who could call out were able to call 911- but what do you do about your animals? Maybe the dispatchers need to be trained to ask if there are animal emergencies as well. Sounds a little callous, but seriously, if little joey is lying under a destroyed house and emergency services CAN’T get to him because there is a herd of terrified cattle in the road, well, what’s going to happen? So if dispatchers can ask things like: are you in a rural location, can you tell if EMS can get to you, is there any livestock out, etc.

Because the Large Animal need was never fully appreciated by EMA and DART, the next step wasn’t taken in the Animal Response department, which was to ask for aid from TN EMA, which then asks for aid from HSUS.

On the reverse end of that, when I went to ask for aid from HSUS, I received the following letter:

Hi Vivi,

Thanks for your message. I’m glad to hear that you and your farm made it through the tornadoes unscathed and that you were able to assist other horse owners. I consulted with our disaster services folks who let me know that we did assist with tornado impacted animals and people in Macon County, TN. We can only respond when asked by government officials and weren’t asked to assist in Williamson County. Unfortunately, we don’t have relief funds available to assist private individuals. We typically make donations to animal care organizations that assist us directly with rescue efforts (i.e. take in animals we rescue from disaster areas). I would suggest reaching out to local community and animal welfare groups to see if they have any resources or disaster funds set up to assist individuals in Williamson County.

Best wishes,

Stacy Segal

Equine Protection Specialist

The Humane Society of the United States

To which I replied:

Hi Stacy,

I appreciate you getting back with me. And I can understand your/HSUS’ position, but I do have a problem with it.

Williamson County dropped the ball. On all accounts. They didn’t ask for any disaster aid- for humans or animals- and we had to really throw a hissy fit to get any help at all. By one account, our county DART was not activated, so there was absolutely NO response for animals. Another account holds that while all DART members were mobilized in the state, the Williamson County DART is not “official” and therefore not held to the same standards as “official” DARTs… Either way, the supposed Co-Director works in this county and should have been fully aware of the extent of the damage, just from a personal level.

Due to the lack of “official” animal first responders or DART,there was a huge problem with everything from expensive fox hunters to endurance horses, to cattle, to mules, to goats all getting out and wandering some busy roads. Or getting cut, damaged or killed by dangerous debris.

There were two groups that did respond almost immediately to animal needs on Wednesday morning after the tornado and they were:
the Williamson County Animal Control, who took dogs and cats; and
my friends and I, who arrived with stock trailers, basic husbandry kits, halters and such to deal with large animals. One of my friends is married to a vet, who came along and tended to animals.

I have not heard from any animal welfare groups, and people here are beginning to worry that Animal Control is going to put all the Tornado Animals to sleep. I heard from our supposed director of our county DART, 10 days AFTER the tornado- she wanted to sell tornado victims hay at $9.00 a bale. We’re in the middle of a drought- our State Ag Department is not doing anything to help (although North Carolina’s is helping them), nor is it helping with Tornado relief. Those of us who could, brought in tractor trailer loads of hay from out of state this fall and loaded our barns for our own animals- now some of those animals no longer have a barn to call home or hay to eat. It’s heartbreaking to see grown men cry over lost hay, especially after they’ve lost everything they own.

We are a volunteer group. Many kind people in our area have donated a roll of livestock fencing here or Tposts there… but that is just a drop in the barrel. One woman, for example, lost 2 miles of post and rail fencing (and her house, barn, trailer, truck, etc)- there’s no way we, as a volunteer group, can afford to help her with post and rail. She also lost her hay-

The organizations that have helped have had grants for emergency vet care, boarding, transportation, etc. Those organizations would be AVMA, UAN and Merck. PetSmart Charities has donated cat/dog food, kennels, dog houses, kitty litterboxes, etc. Heck, I just purchased 67 bales of bermuda (100# bales) out of my own pocket and have been delivering it at 10 bales per person to those in need. Just to get some temporary relief. I can’t afford to do that again, though.

What we, and others throughout the state who’ve been effected by tornadoes, need is hay, fencing, supplies to rebuild barns. Since there have been no animal welfare groups jumping in to lend a hand, we have set up a separate fund through United Way specifically for Farm and Animal relief. That would be:

Fairview Area Storm Relief/Farm & Animal Needs
United Way
209 Gothic Court
Franklin, TN 37067

If you are still unable to help, then I would like to have HSUS come here in a few months to sit down for a debriefing. Unfortunately, killer tornado producing storms will continue to happen, and next time I want to be prepared. Since HSUS runs the NDART, I would personally like your (or a NDART/HSUS Rep) review of what we’ve done as community volunteers with NO TRAINING and NO HELP from any of the animal first responders or from the Williamson County Disaster Animal Relief Team in this area. I would like for all of us to figure out what we can improve upon for future disasters. And I would like to think that HSUS would want to investigate why the Williamson County DART failed to mobilize.

Since the area of Williamson County that was hit by the tornado is low income/rural poor & poor agriculture, my neighbors and their animals were IGNORED by the very people we pay taxes to protect us. Some of the people who live here do belong in the higher end of the horse world (fox hunting, endurance racing, showing, carriage club, quarter horse, Arab, sport horse breeding, etc). Some of the people who live here raise show quality cattle or show quality goats. Many do not. But because this area is not the wealthy section of the county, the people and the animals are ignored. So, I want to have protection, education, training and supplies for when the next disaster strikes this area.

Thank you for your time,
Sincerely,

Vivi S. Miller

And then I got an email from Dr. Linnabary, who I believe is Director of TN DART through the TN Dept of Agriculture:

Vivi,

Please accept this letter as an explanation of the Tennessee Disaster Animal Response Team (TN DART) during the tornadoes of February 5, 2008. I have an email that you wrote criticizing the Tennessee and Williamson County response to both the drought and the tornadoes. First, let me say that I will recommend your visiting the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) website for information on the drought: www.tennessee.gov/agriculture . There was a drought task force which had weekly meetings and many conference calls in order that the drought issues are addressed as completely and timely as possible.

The tornadoes which raked Tennessee caused damage in 15 counties. There were some counties more heavily hit than others with some counties having a Presidentially Declaration of Disaster. If provided in the declaration of emergency, federal funds are provided for reimbursement of costs of certain emergency operations and low cost loans provided to the citizens for rebuilding their homes and businesses. Without the Presidential Declaration of Disaster, people in some tornado affected counties usually depend on donations of goods and services through certain non-governmental organizations and certain governmental agencies.

As for the response to the tornado damage in Williamson County, I believe from the reports that the Williamson County Emergency Management Agency did as they were called on to do and they responded in an excellent manner. They called out their DART which worked with large and small animals alike. Each of these teams had experienced personnel and veterinarians who provided immediate care to the injured animals. I believe that there are both large and small animals currently being cared for by the county DART. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency Operations Center communicated with each of the affected counties frequently during the response period and early recovery and the counties which needed assistance was provided specific aid as called for by the county. The Tennessee DART was requested only by Macon County. We deployed the Wilson County and Hamilton County DARTs as well as an HSUS team.

Finally, I think that it is important for people to understand that there is a plan by which we operate during disasters. It is called the “Tennessee Emergency Management Plan” or TEMP. The TEMP is compliant with the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA disaster operational guidelines called, Incident Command System (ICS)”. The ICS defines the protocols and procedures under which all emergency management agencies work. For purposes outlined in this letter, the county EMA and county governments manage disasters within their counties. Should they need state assistance; the state will assist where they are needed. Likewise, where the state requires assistance in the disaster, the governor makes a request for aid from the federal government. Usually, a Presidential Disaster Declaration is made in order for federal agencies to be mobilized. This exactly how Williamson County and the Tennessee governments acted in this disaster. To learn more about disaster management, I recommend your taking the basic ICS classes online through the internet at: www.fema.gov . I will also invite you to be a part of the Williamson County DART. I’m sure that they would be happy to have you as a concerned citizen and responder.

Sincerely,

Dr. Linnabary

My reply…

Dear Dr. Linnabary,

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to email me with this explanation. I would like to offer an explanation of my comments that you must have read in my scathing letter to HSUS, not as an argument, but so you can see where I got my information and conclusions from and in hopes that in the future you can make sure that the Government Agencies involved are all on the same page.

I would like to say, I realize there is a TEMP and ICS. My mother is in the Coast Guard, which is run by the Department of Homeland Security. One of my friends, who’s home and farm were destroyed by the tornado, is a registered nurse and a registered First Responder. I’m sure she would have been called to action if she hadn’t had the tornado rip through the middle of her house. When I found her she was in the middle of her yard holding the lead lines of 4 draft horses, unable to really move, while 2 more were trapped in her collapsed barn.

After the tornado, on Wednesday morning, friends & I went out in the field acting as First Responders for large animals in need. We arrived with horse trailers, stock trailers, halters, lead lines, friends with chain saws and brawn, and even brought a Vet with us. We were able to get the two horses trapped in the barn out and treated by the Vet we brought with us. We were able to get all 6 horses contained and moved off property to foster locations. We were able to get other loose animals contained. And we started to identify the needs of many people in this area.

Once we realized there was a need on a larger scale, and we didn’t see anyone filling it, we started researching what was available. One of my first places to research was TN Dept of Agriculture and the TN State Veterinarian’s office. I have dealt with both offices in the past and was comfortable negotiating their websites and calling them on the phone for more information.

Just for the record, during the drought this fall, I called the TN Dept of Agriculture every other week to see if there was going to be any aid for farmers and animal owners in TN. I was given the names and phone numbers of the people in the Clarksville area who were arranging for tractor trailer loads of hay to come in. I was also told to call my local FSA, which I did but the Farm Bill wasn’t passed until late in the fall and the current drought was not addressed in it. Also, through experience, I know that much of the aid to farmers is in the form of low interest loans, not grants- although I did research NRCS grants and had my local NRCS agent come out to walk my property and discuss what was currently available. As no aid seemed to be forthcoming from the TN Dept of Agriculture during the drought, I brought in 1200 bales of horse hay from out of state (one load from Upstate New York, another load from West VA), and obtained international cargo containers to hold my hay. And I proceeded to field phone calls from people who could no longer afford to feed their horses and cattle. Quite a few horses went to auction at pennies on the dollar, and I know of cattle that was sold off early or, in at least one case, sent to KY to another farm to wait out the drought. We all made disaster plans in case our wells and ponds went dry.

In the process of researching what aid was available for Tornado Victims, I found the information about how to join DART and what courses were required- all of which are available online. I actually started the first course one night but never finished due to questions I had, and the more pressing needs of the local farmers and animal owners here.

The information I had, and from where I drew my conclusions about the County and State response to the tornadoes came from a number of sources, including from a conversation with you via phone. I believe that call was on either February 13 or February 14, in which you told me, after pulling up some information on your computer, that DART had NOT been notified of any need in this area, and in order to get DART involved I would have to start with Williamson County E.M.A. and make the requests for aid myself. At the time I contacted you, and I was given your name, number and email address by The State Veterinarian’s Office, I was unaware that Tony Fortner and Animal Control were part of Williamson County DART. I was very aware that Tony and Animal Control were being incredibly helpful with small animals, and at least one horse who had been trapped under a tree and ended up with a limb through a rib.

I had called FEMA earlier that week, on 2/11/08, to ask why Williamson County had not received the Presidential Declaration of Disaster and what I could do as a citizen of Williamson County to help my county get that Declaration. I spoke with Drema, id#XXXX, and was told that Williamson County EMA had not requested Federal Aid, therefore Williamson County had not received the Declaration. Drema suggested I call Williamson County EMA to help push for the request for Federal Aid, and also suggested I contact my State Representatives. That information was passed around to as many people as possible in order to contact State Representatives, which I believe was accomplished. I had also written an email to Governor Bredesen and my husband had emailed President Bush. I did think it a bit odd that Williamson County EMA had not requested Federal Aid as I had read in the Tennessean that Governor Bredesen had requested that, I believe, 23 counties be Declared Disaster Areas.

I had also been in contact with both Mike Smith and with Dwayne Perry at the Williamson County Agriculture Extension. I believe I spoke with Mike on Tuesday the 12th, and Dwayne was not in the office that day. I spoke with Dwayne the following day, and emailed him my spreadsheet of people with farm and animal needs. Dwayne told me he was going to talk to some of his resources and friends to see if a private donation of materials could be made to one or two extremely needy people. This was not an Ag Extension project but a personal favor Dwayne was asking of people he knew. We also talked about the fact that Dwayne had personally helped one local farmer, Jimmy Jones, the Saturday after the tornado, along with members of Tn Cattleman’s Association. Neither Mike nor Dwayne made mention of DART in Williamson County, even though they were both aware that I was trying to get help for the farmers and animals who were tornado victims, and that I was trying to bring in hay and needed a place to store it (I was hoping the Ag Center would allow me to do just that, even if it were a tractor trailer parked in their parking lot).

On Friday, February 15, late in the afternoon, I received a call from Melinda Barrington. She informed me she was Co-Director of Williamson County DART, along with Tony Fortner (which is the first I’d heard that Tony was anything but a neighbor and Animal Control). She told me she was in charge of Equine needs- and I explained that horses weren’t the only animals effected, that we had cattle, goats, mules, and possibly other large animals, as well as small animals with needs. She requested that I email her the same spreadsheet of people with farm/animal needs, that I had sent Dwayne Perry. I made sure she understood that the list I had sent Dwayne was the very very neediest and most urgent cases I had been able to identify so far, as Dwayne had requested that information to try and secure a private donation. She was fine with that. She then proceeded to inform me she had hay. I was thrilled and asked her how we could get it to those who needed it. At that point, she told me that she could only donate it to the very neediest tornado victims, all others had to pay $9.00/bale. I asked her how to determine who was the very neediest tornado victim when people had just lost their homes, barns, vehicles, all their belongings and she was going to charge them $9.00 a bale for hay? She did reiterate that she would donate it to the neediest but had to recoup money where she could. I asked her what kind of hay this was, and she told me it was an orchard grass/timothy mix- a nice horse hay. Again, I reminded her that other animals were involved and that no farmer was going to feed his cattle $9.00 bale hay. There was a reporter sitting next to me in my car while this conversation took place, and SHE was appalled that a supposed Disaster person was charging OUTRAGEOUS prices for hay to disaster victims.

I sent the email later with the spread sheet, and I will copy it here, followed by Melinda’s response:

On Feb 16, 2008, at 8:57 AM, Vivi Miller wrote:

Hi Melinda,
Thanks so much for getting in touch with me. I hope we can help the animals and farmers in need- which is most of them… This is the rural poor community in Williamson County, and the community is also a proud community. Therefore it has been difficult to get people to admit to what their needs are. The list I’m attaching is preliminary, and consists of the neediest members I’ve been able to identify so far. There will be more. I am going back out into the field again today and may try to do a door to door. I’m sorry if I seem a bit scattered, I took this on by myself (I do animal rescue/foster work in “real life” and have been affiliated with a sanctuary out of Cookeville in the past), and the response has been overwhelming. I find it hard to simoultanously be at home on the computer/phone begging for supplies and also in the community delivering, helping with issues, moving animals, etc. And still be a mom and wife and take care of my critters & the 4 legged & winged tornado victims on my farm.

Enough excuses! attached is the preliminary list. I’m still assessing hay needs, round bales for cattle seem to be more immediate than horse hay, but there was a LOT of horse hay lost. Sorry if I was dismissive about your horse hay, but I think a decent quality grass hay can still be purchased in the $7 range at Farm Depot & Will Co Farmer’s Coop, so you can see why I balked at $9 a bale. If you need resources for less expensive hay, I have some that I know from this fall & just haven’t had time to contact.

Thanks- Vivi
cell:

ps – when this is all “over” is there a chance we could all sit down and do an assessment of response, need, and what farm/animal volunteers should do/be trained for when the next disaster strikes? Thanks-

—– Original Message —-
From: Melinda Barrington
To: Vivi Miller
Sent: Saturday, February 16, 2008 9:30:13 AM
Subject: Re: Fairview Area Animal/Farm tornado relief

Vivi,

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.

Tony is in the field today making assessments.

Please email me anything that you get and I will make arrangements with Tony and the Ag Center.

Thank you,

Melinda B

It was after this response from Melinda that I started getting really mad. I contacted the news media, and a few reporters have been investigating this story. One reporter tried to contact Melinda- and this is what she emailed me:

Melinda’s cell phone won’t take messages…her office number isn’t picking up and her home number isn’t in service.

On 2/20, I received another email from this same reporter, as follows:

So…I finally talked to some folks with the Dept. of Ag today.

And apparently they say ALL DART teams in the state were mobilized after the tornado…problem is Williamson County’s DART team isn’t really “official.” He says the team is just starting up and therefore isn’t held to the same responsibilites as other teams.

Additionally, upon more research into Disaster Aid provided to animals after the tornadoes, I came across “The DART Report,” and I am attaching that report to this email. Please note, there is no mention in “The DART Report” about dead animals in Williamson County. There was at least one horse and 6 dogs that I know of that were killed in the Williamson County Tornadoes. I am also copying the first paragraph of “The DART Report,” as follows:

Tennessee Storm Animal Emergency Response
Situational Report as of 02/22/08

On Feb. 5, 2008, the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) was fully activated at 6:30
p.m. upon confirmation of storm damage. Department of Agriculture emergency coordinators
were notified and reported for duty. To date, Macon County is the only county in the affected
areas to request animal emergency services.


As you can see, I did look for DART, or any similar organization, from the beginning. I’ve actually been in contact with Melissa Riley at Wilson County DART (she invited me to join THEM!) to see if we could help them, as I was under the belief there was a need for a foster farm for donkeys from Macon County. We shared information, especially about the availability of grants, such as: AVMA- has a grant for Vets who worked on Tornado victim animals, I spoke with Dr. Heather Case, who was extremely helpful.
UAN (United Animal Nations)- grant available thru 2/29 for disaster vet care, transportation and boarding
MERCK- disaster grant for vets who worked on Tornado Victim animals for medicines and supplies
FarmAid- grant on a case by case basis for farm aid for Tornado victims.

My point in telling you all this is not to argue with you, as I have stated, but to point out that I did follow the right path and was told by the very agencies who should have known better, that 1) Williamson County EMA had dropped the ball and 2) Williamson County DART basically was not operational. So I hope you can understand why I was a bit peeved by Melinda Barrington’s comments and offer of “help” and by the Humane Society of the United States email to me. As I pointed out in my email to Melinda Barrington, hay was for sale at the local feed stores in the $7/bale range. I purchased an orchardgrass/timothy mix hay from West VA this fall (100# bales, second cutting) for $7.50/bale delivered. And while I realize fuel has gone up, it has not gone up so much to raise the price/bale $1.50, especially to tornado victims. I believe it is against the law to price gouge during a disaster, but I could be wrong.

By the way, I have spoken to Mike Thompson at Williamson County EMA today. I had called that office many times and the phone just rang and rang and rang. Today was the first time I had actually gotten through. He is aware of this problem and I hope he can find out why the phone never picked up or went to dispatch. I hope my experience was an isolated case (or cases, as I tried probably 3 times a week to reach WCEMA).

I am hoping to take the required courses so I can be a DART team member and actually know what I am doing, instead of flying by the seat of my pants. There have been a number of things that have concerned me about the fact that untrained volunteers (although we did have one vet with us) responded to animal needs, especially large animals needs. Concerns like the spread of disease and other bio-hazards, liability, the possibility that we could get hurt (luckily we all had a good deal of basic husbandry skills and supplies) or could make a hurt animal worse. These are risks that are taken even by professionals, but I am fully aware that a well intentioned volunteer can cause more problems than they can do good.

If possible, when the dust has settled, I would really really like to have a meeting of all concerned to discuss what happened and how to make it better. I made this request of Melinda Barrington (and was dismissed, see above) and I made this request of HSUS.

Thank you for your time,

Sincerely,

Vivi Miller

The next day, I received an email from a volunteer who was trying to help with some dog/cat issues and she’d contacted HSUS on her own. Being a wonderful volunteer who wanted to make sure I was up to date with all the info, she sent me the following:

Leighann McCollum, TN State Director for The Humane Society of the United States, sent me an email regarding livestock needs for Wm. County. She suggested contacting Purina for hay and large animal feed. She and Dr. Linnabarry, Tn Dept. of Ag., say that the reason that Wm. is getting no assistance is due to the fact that Williamson County was ever declared a Presidentially Declared Disaster. This needed to release funds for disaster relief. You probably know all this, but I just wanted to let you know what I was told through email.

Just wanted to let you know what I was told.

Now, by this point, I realized that information was getting mangled. Williamson County had been declared on 2/12, and was eligible for federal aid and disaster relief. So, I thought Dr. Linnabary should know that there was mis-information going around. So I emailed him again:

Dear Dr. Linnabary,

Not that I want to beat a dead horse, so to speak, but I just received an email from one of the volunteers here. She has been in communication with Leighann McCollum, whom I know is copied on this email. I am copying part of the email I received below, and if you can get through some grammatical mistakes, I think you’ll see that mis-information is being perpetuated by the very agencies that should know better. In that I am referring to the fact that Williamson Country received the Presidential Declaration of Disaster on 2/12/07.

Again, the reason I bring this to your attention is to make the system better and help it run smoother.

Thank you for your time,

Vivi

PS- the “she” in the following refers to Leighann McCollum, and I am aware she may have been misquoted, but it is still important to see where some of the concerns are.

She and Dr. Linnabarry, Tn Dept. of Ag., say that the reason that Wm. is getting no assistance is due to the fact that Williamson County was ever declared a Presidentially Declared Disaster. This needed to release funds for disaster relief.

and I almost immediately got the following response:
I can’t tell who wrote this email to you but it did not come from me. Dr L was copied on a message to Lxxxx Lxxxx who is the only other person I’ve corresponded with in Williamson Co. And agreed with the response.

I would appreciate not being accused of sending inaccurate information if you are relying on someone who has obviously paraphrased.

Leighann

Ewwwww… someone seems to have an ego problem. She totally misses the point that this isn’t about US or HER or whatever, but about better communication so we don’t spend our time spinning wheels and we can spend our time helping animals.

So I apologized….

Please note, I did say you might have been mis-quoted. And if this is not your information, then we have therefore identified where the mis-information is coming from, IN THIS CASE. Obviously, Lxxx Lxxxx misinterpreted the information you emailed her. I have corrected her by letting her know that Williamson Country received the Presidential Declaration of Disaster on 2/12/08 (and for those of you who are sticklers, please note that I had mistakenly written “07” instead of “08” in the first email).

I’m not trying to throw blame here- but I am trying to help all concerned get a grip on how the information we all send out is being interpreted. Myself included, but I am not a part of any government agency or large non-profit. Those of you who are in those organizations are held to a higher standard than a volunteer like myself.

There is a sense of frustration and hopelessness in this area as more and more people get turned down by FEMA. Many of the insurance agencies are really being awful (I won’t name names), and if people qualify for the SBA loan they can’t afford it. The same goes for the USDA federal disaster loans. I realize they are all low interest loans, but that only works for people who can afford to borrow the money in the first place.

So, Leighann, the purpose here was not to blame you and I apologize if it came across that way.

Vivi

And my apology doesn’t seem to have been accepted (or she really DOES have an ego problem):

Vivi- for your review, below is the exact email that was sent to Lxxx Lxxx. I hope you will understand why I felt that your accusation that “mis-information is being perpetuated by the very agencies that should know better” is an unfair statement, even when prefaced by “maybe she was misquoted”.

Hi Lxxxx. The Humane Society of the United States deployed our disaster relief team to assist with tornado impacted animals and people in Macon County , TN. We spent almost 2 weeks doing rescue and recovery in the disaster zone. We must comply with state regulations and can only respond when asked by government officials. Since Williamson County did not request ESF16 or state resources, HSUS was not deployed to that area. Unfortunately, we don’t have relief funds available to assist private individuals. We typically make donations to animal care organizations that assist us directly with rescue efforts (i.e. take in animals we rescue from disaster areas). Since your request is regarding livestock, I would suggest reaching out to the local Farm Bureau to see if they have any resources or disaster funds available to assist individuals in Williamson County . There may also be funding available through the Farm Services Agency. You can find additional information for requesting assistance from the state at the following link: http://www.tennessee.gov/agriculture/regulate/animals/darthelp.html

Leighann

OK, I don’t know if anyone caught this, but I re-read Leighann’s original email to Lxxxx a few times… and wondered what the heck ESF 16 is. So I googled it. And was just about to write a scathing email to Leighann when I received the following from Dr. Linnabary:

To all,

We could continue this thread of “he said/she said” for a long time and without positive results. An ancient Hebrew tradition was to place on a goat the transgressions of the people then leading the goat to the desert to die with the transgressions. Let me be the scapegoat here and you can send to me all of your problems and I will ceremoniously deposit them in the “desert”. It does more harm than good to dwell on “who said what” especially in the light that we have so much work to do getting the storm affected communities back to some degree of normality. We also have to work within the guidelines provided by county and state governments. Where the communication breakdown occurred will be reviewed in the county and state after action reports and some of you will have an opportunity to make statements for the AARs.

As it is stated in the optimist’s creed, let’s “forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements of the future”. No doubt that we had our first trial of the TN DART program and we did make errors. So let’s define those errors and make corrections in the plan – both state and county. It will be important for everyone to take part in their county DART and make it as functional and interactive with the county EMA as possible. I’m certain that we all share the same goals in caring for disaster affected animals and agriculture.

For those who need hay, feed and supplies to help restart, they will be dependent on their counties for help. Perhaps some donated products will be available. Unfortunately and ultimately, disaster affected people have to depend on themselves and neighbors for help. Another suggestion is to contact the local VOAD representative for aid.

This may come across as negative but be assured that I intend it to be a positive note. But speaking from experience, she said/he said discussions do little accept burn valuable time and energy and sometimes relationships.
Dr. L.

He had a good point, although I did take the time out to ask him to take some info to the table when they all have their AAR:

Thank you Sir,

I appreciate your taking the reins on this and putting it to rest. And while I say that, I would like to beg your forgiveness and indulge me a few comments- not in derogatory comments, but comments to help make things better for now and the future, for humans and for animals. I am assuming (and I do know the meaning of that word) that the AAR will be for Relief Agencies to review how the system works, not for people like your’s truly to make suggestions. Therefore, I give you my suggestions:

The email that was sent to a volunteer had the phrase:
Williamson County did not request ESF16 or state resources

I am pretty sure the reason why the volunteer mis-interpreted the email is because she had NO IDEA what ESF16 means. Quite honestly I don’t either, although I guess it is some Emergency code. I took the time to google the term, and and the only “definitions” I could find were for a New Jersey Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring table (http://www.nj.gov/dep/bmw/ToxicPages/esf16.htm) or that it is a registered pesticide (product info sheet attached, so you can show people at the AAR).

I realize that it is important to be able to communicate efficiently and quickly in a disaster and post disaster situation, and the use of code words and multitudes of initials is great for inter-agency communication. But volunteers in a disaster are often community members with little or no emergency training. We don’t speak the lingo, we don’t know the hierarchy, in many cases we’ve never heard of the county agencies that are supposed to help. What we do know is the layout of the land, the people who live in it, the resources and potential hazards inherent in the area and as members of the community we bring with us a level of trust that isn’t found for “some government agency.” So I suggest, that when an agency of any kind communicates with us, they do so in a way that WE can understand. And do so with caring and feeling as we are exhausted, traumatized and getting the brunt of the survivors’ angst and helplessness. If we mis-interpret a communication, then we all run the risk of that mis-interpretation getting out in the general public and raising the level of frustration the people have with the Government and with Aid Agencies.

I also want to point out another thing that should be discussed at the AAR is public awareness of emergency and disaster procedures, and communication in the very early stages of a disaster. I mention this because I had been told that while DART was out helping small animals, they weren’t aware of all the big animal issues, and I may be wrong but I believe the information was coming to DART through Williamson County EMA. For example, without getting into a he said/she said situation, I believe the fact that Williamson County EMA didn’t know about the all the animals in distress and need, because 1) the homeowners/animal owners didn’t have any effective way to communicate and 2) the homeowners/animal owners had no idea who to call to get help for their animals. In some cases, where cell phones worked, some people called their local vets, other’s called friends to help. To date, even the people who’ve been helped by DART have no idea who or what DART is. They just think Animal Control came to their rescue- or 3 women with trailers, halters, lead ropes and a vet showed up magically. Cell phone coverage is spotty even during the best times in this area- after the tornado it was horrible. Only certain service worked in certain areas and it wasn’t the same service in each area. This part of Williamson County is very hilly- in fact, it’s been compared to West VA with the hills, hamlets, hollows, streams and trees. If someone is not familiar with the area, it can be daunting. It still surprises me that everyone was found.

After people are settled, and life starts resuming to normal (which I am guessing will be a year or more around here), I would like to suggest that DART and other organizations get involved in the community. Maybe they can hold a meet & greet, go to schools and talk to children, have seminars and get locals involved in disaster preparedness. This could go a long way to improved community relations and, better, improved quality of life for animals. And maybe this is somewhere HSUS can get involved in this community and help us with prevention and preparation, and even train people in the event DART can’t make it out to an area- so that basic emergency husbandry care can be given (although I have to admit some of my neighbors did an incredible job patching up horses that looked like Voodoo dolls- and did it with duct tape).

Just my two cents for the future and for the good of the animals.

Vivi

I also emailed him a while later letting him know just how “wrong” it is that the State Director of Disaster Animal Response Team is out sacrificing goats – I did it with a laugh and a wink and got a “point well taken” response in return.

I am glad he stepped in, because I was gonna let Leighann and HSUS have it with both barrels. Maybe I’m being foolish, but I think it’s incredibly arrogant of Nationally Known Aid Agencies to think we, the common people in the midst of a disaster, have ANY idea what they’re talking about when they start throwing initials and numbers at us. I do like the concept, though, that she actually had no idea what she was saying and she’s actually referring to the New Jersey people who are studying some sort of wierd turtle.

Yup. That’s my story… and I’m stickin’ to it. I’d love to see the headlines on that one – “HSUS ignores tornado ravaged animals to study muddy turtles in New Jersey”

sorry to make you sit through my gripe and growl here- but if I don’t get this stuff off my chest, it effects how I help everyone- and I find it’s much better to be patient, calm, understanding and compassionate when dealing with traumatized humans and animals than it is to be angry and frustrated. I actually learned that trick when I brought Beamer, my now 5 yr old belgian/qh pmu, in when he was 4 months old. When he got scared, I’d put my forehead on his forehead and just do some yoga breathing. He’d calm right down. And match my breathing. Found it worked with my children when they were babies too… To this day, when Beam gets upset and I’m around, he comes over and we breathe together. Pretty cool. Now if I could just get him to go into lotus position, I’d have my fortune made!

Nite-

V

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