IFAW’s Typhoon Morakot Response
This post was filed by IFAW's Michael Booth reporting from Taiwan.
Imagine a torrential downpour that is capable of dropping 10 feet of water in less than a couple of days. Hard to imagine isn’t it? Well, lucky for us, it’s not a common occurrence. In fact, those numbers have been seen just a handful of times in recorded history! Unfortunately for Taiwan, this once-in-a-lifetime storm descended on the island the 8th of August.
With a storm this size, you quickly encounter flash-floods and mudslides that immediately impact the welfare of all living beings. Washing away roads, highways, bridges and everything on its path, the flood crippled Southern Taiwan and now 10 days after Morakot, the rescue and recovery process is only just beginning.
As far as we know, IFAW is the only international group on the ground responding to the animal’s needs - and needs there are! At the moment the President of Taiwan is under great pressure to expedite human rescue under extremely difficult conditions. Search and rescue teams have been deployed to the areas of greater devastation and are pulling people out. Sixteen black-hawk helicopters and other military helicopters are tirelessly flying from staging areas to the mountain villages that have been cut-off from the rest of the world.
We were in one such staging area last Monday in Cisuan, Kaohsiung County. A healthy congregation of humanitarian groups, volunteers and media anxiously waited for the military helicopters to touch down with more survivors. But what about their animals? What about their pets, their backyard livestock, what is their fate? That is what keeps us up at night. As far as we can tell, the majority of animals have been left behind, with little or no chance of survival.
For the past 2 days, IFAW has been visiting some of the cat and dog shelters stricken by the floods. One of the shelters has all but washed away, and now dogs tread over mud-bogged terrain, still shaken by the storm that took close to 100 of their companions. Shelter volunteers spent the next few days disposing of their carcasses and on our visit yesterday, incense was burning and Buddhist mantras played on a loop near their improvised mass grave to honor their souls.
The donations of our generous supporters allows us to be here, assessing the damaged areas and help source the food, water, and medical supplies that will help the animals during this time of great need. Our work continues in Taiwan to try and reach the forgotten animals of this disaster and help the damaged animal shelters get back on their feet.
To learn more about this response and IFAW’s work to help animals around the world, go to www.ifaw.org.