Responding to South Carolina flooding

A dog rests comfortably in a crate with her newborn pups. PHOTO © RedRover/B. Grammie.The waters rose so quickly across South Carolina that many residents were not able to think twice when mandatory evacuations were announced, panicking that their homes were filling with water.

Of course, more panic ensued when they thought of their pets stuck in their abandoned home—alone, scared, and hungry.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division did not panic. They quickly activated the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC) to rescue and shelter pets and horses they knew would need emergency care.

As NARSC Chair, I immediately activated member organizations.

The IFAW Disaster Team was one of the first teams on the ground, and I assumed the role of NARSC Liaison.

We quickly set up a distribution center full of emergency sheltering supplies donated by PetSmart Charities and food donated by Rescue Bank and GreaterGood.org.

The calls poured in from local animal shelters and pet owners desperate for help. NARSC members joining us here include ASPCA, American Humane Association, Code 3 Associates, and RedRover.

Responders travel by boat to attend to some animals in need. PHOTO © IFAW/J.FranklinThe Georgetown County Emergency Operations Center mobilized quickly and requested our help to rescue pets and horses stranded by the historic flood waters. We jumped into trucks, boats, and rescue trailers when each call came in.

People who had lost everything just wanted their pets rescued and cared for. The human-animal bond is universal, and we are honored to serve those most in need.

Our teams rescued 17 cats from one house with water up to the second floor – the owners watched from a safe distance as their babies were shuttled to safety.

We provided emergency medical attention, dry bedding and a good meal. This morning when I checked in on them they all had bright eyes, full bellies, and a good night’s sleep. Everyone got snuggled and reassured that their family would come to see them soon.

My next visit was to the dog room where a momma hound and her two-week-old puppies were resting comfortably. What a nightmare the momma must have been through as the thunder and lightning accompanied torrential rainfall, knowing there was nothing she could do but try her best to keep her pups’ heads above the rising water.

Today she too had bright eyes full of hope as she cleaned her babes and waited patiently for us to serve up breakfast.

I am writing from our temporary animal shelter in Georgetown now where all day we took in more cats and dogs from folks just trying to put their lives back together. Roads are starting to open up again and people are returning to homes destroyed by this flood. Many come in seeking food for their pets, keeping them with their family in a car or friend’s home; maybe they just need a crate or some toys for their pets.

We are grateful to have supplies to give along with a kind word of hope.

--SW

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