Snakes in a Substation
The animal rescue teams in India have been facing some of the worst flooding conditions ever. I was floored to hear that almost all rescuers had lost their homes in these recent floods. Despite this, 35 of those animal rescuers have come together to begin search and rescue within the flooded city of Surat.
It was expected that a number of exotic animals would wash up in the city uncontrollably, but what wasn’t expected was the number of phone calls requesting assistance with removing snakes. Nearly 200 snakes have already been rescued. The team is receiving 20+ snake calls a day and 50% of those snakes rescued are poisonous! Luckily the team prepared last year with help from IFAW in collecting snake rescue equipment. This allows for the rescue of snakes from the electricity substations so that the electricity and water supply can be restored to the city.
Imagine….if these animal rescuers were not out there working night and day, the city of Surat would still be locked in a power outage due to the number of snakes caught in the substations!
Out of the 35 team members, only two walked away with cars intact that are now being used for rescue work. The rest of the team is trying to make due on bicycles, distributing food and water to roaming animals in the city. At points the animal rescuers have to lift dogs out of the water, place them on higher walls and then just move on. So many animals are in need of help.
One of the team members reports the following:
“I don’t have the words or the language to describe the challenges that we all faced while responding in the flood disaster area. We had to combine human and animal rescue and relief as most all were in need.”
The majority of the city was in a blackout for close to 8 days following the flood. 90% of Surat city and the surrounding areas were under water. The rains disrupted communications and cut power and water supplies to the city. Although animal rescue teams entered the city to begin rescue efforts, no communication could be established with people outside Surat. Only once in a day would a freak SMS get through, delivering vital communications about the member’s position and what they were doing.
Crippled communication, paralyzed mobility and putting aside the thought of great personal loss are the hardships team members face while saving many lives at the same time. The animal rescuers charge into gushing waters, risking their own lives for the sake of saving humans and animals in great danger.
The local administration was forced to establish a curfew in order to control the chaos in the city. Teams soon found that they could only move in the night due to the number of relief vehicles trying to make their way through the flooded city.