From the category archives:

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina Rememberance Day 8/29

August 28, 2007

Two years. It doesn’t seem like two years have passed, but then again, there isn’t a day that goes by that I still don’t think about my time spent in New Orleans doing pet rescue after Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

It’s ironic, too, that I just spent almost two hours in a doctors office, specifically a pulmonologist (lung specialist), to get my lungs checked out. I developed mild asthma just before I went to NOLA and now it’s to the point where I can’t breathe deeply without wheezing, nor can I be active like I used to be. Oh, I still go to the gym, and sometimes force myself beyond my limits, but I always end up paying the price with my lungs physically hurting for a day or two.

I’m praying it’s just minor, like perhaps I need to exercise and strengthen my lungs, but deep down I’m afraid it’s worse. What if I really was exposed to toxic mold and other pollutants that were floating around there in the constant dust you could visibly see? I had friends who were over there with me tell me that doctors have found all sorts of nasty stuff in their lungs and that they are permanently damaged. We’ll see, I guess. He’s ordered a set of X-rays and a lung capacity test where I have to run on a treadmill with a tube over my nose and mouth. And that’s just to start. "The basics", he called those tests. Where we go from there depends on what, if anything, he finds in those tests.

No, no, no. I’m fine. I have to be fine. After all, I eat super-freaking healthy, I scarf antioxidant-laden food and teas like crazy, I still do yoga and I can still climb a set of stairs without getting winded. What’s there to be afraid of, right?

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Hurricane Katrina Pet Remembrance Day – 8/29

August 28, 2007

In an effort to remember all the pets that were left behind after Hurricane Katrina made landfall two years ago, I would like to share several disaster readiness tips for pet parents that I found beneficial to follow. I hope these assist you when setting a plan for coping with the effects of disasters of any kind to remember to provide for your beloved pets’ health and safety needs, in addition to any you have in place for your human family members.

Emergency and Disaster Animal Preparedness

As a conscientious animal owner you probably consider your pets as members of the family. In the event that a natural disaster hits your neck of the woods, are you prepared to take your pets with you and provide for all their needs during the evacuation time? If not, here are some guidelines:

Food and Water: Stock up on dry or canned food, being sure to include a mechanical can opener.  When putting down a water supply, remember to have plenty available or your pet as well as a drinking bowl.  A good rule is to pack a 5-7 day supply.

Medications: Be certain to have a sufficient supply on hand. Keep a photocopy of essential or life-supporting pet prescriptions in your emergency kit.

Identification: Microchipping your dog or cat will increase your chances of reuniting in case of separation during an emergency. By embedding a microchip with your contact information under your pet’s skin, a veterinarian or animal facility, with a simple scan, will be able to identify an animal’s owners.  In some evacuation cases, a pet may have to go to a separate shelter or veterinary kennel since human shelters frequently prohibit animals for health and space reasons. If you reside in an area where evacuations are likely, be informed about pet shelter options before disaster strikes. In addition to microchipping, if you and your animals must be separated, be certain you also have your pets securely tagged and keep photocopies of the tags (and rabies tags as well) in your emergency kit. Also, have recent photos of your pets to make identifications easy and swift.

Transporting: If you must evacuate, make every effort to bring your pet.  To ensure safe evacuation for a pet who may be stressed or agitated by the situation, use tagged leashes, collars and/or harnesses and keep the animal close by family members for both comfort and security. Smaller pets, especially felines, are best transported in well-ventilated wire crates or carriers.

Sanitation, First Aid: Pads, paper towels, rags, a litter supply, and pet-safe disinfectant will come in handy.  Add some over-sized bandages and gauze strips to your family first aid kit if you have a larger animal. 

Comfort Zone: A favorite blanket or chew toy can be just the thing to provide a sense of security for an animal under stress. In such times, take a moment to reassure your best friend that you are there, protecting him or her.

Credit: North Shore Animal League

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Anticipating a Memory

August 29, 2006

The few days leading up to today have been rough – mentally and physically. It was as if I was expecting to hear about another disaster. My mind, in anticipation, kept churning up images of what I saw doing pet rescue. The last few days I restlessly fell asleep teary-eyed and exhausted or silently dropping tears randomly when I would see those images again on the news. The latest was in the gym last night, on the treadmill – they have tv’s there. Watching those images again, even my gym music piped through my headphones seemed far away.

My body, in anticipation, and being "fed" images through my mind, has not been keeping down food well and churning up my stomach when I did eat. I’ve had either headaches or body aches for no real reason, either.

Of course, I’m happy and relieved that today is a quiet hurricane day, with no hurricanes nearing the Gulf Coast. One would think that considering how I’ve been feeling about reliving it, I should be able to write more.. something more, but I can’t. Words seem to fail me when it comes to expressing my experiences doing pet rescue in the aftermath of Katrina. Nothing I write seems to capture exactly what I want to express.

So, instead, I am including a writing by Brenda Shoss of Kinship Circle. It was sent a few days ago for the people who did pet rescue, in anticipation of today. It was through Kinship Circle email alerts that I learned of the immediate need for veterinary technicians for Alley Cat Allies last year and why I knew I couldn’t sit on my ass and do nothing.
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August 29 – One Year Ago This Day
By Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle

August 29, 2006 marks the day, exactly one year ago, Category 5 Katrina cast people and animals adrift in a sea of loss and despair. When the levees broke, a singular scream arose from dark waters, drowning out reason.
Erasing hope.

Who would hear their cries, scattered over rotting roads and toxic heaps?
Who would see their desperation — locked behind doors, bound to fence posts, stranded on rooftops?
Whose hands would heal their anonymous pain?

At least 600,000 searched for familiar faces. But frantic eyes turned cloudy with despair when no one came. Broken bodies collapsed. Huddled inside bathtubs. Hiding behind walls. Their skin, now paper-thin, stretched over bones. A last tail wagged. An unheard purr rose from the rubble and merged with the wind.

Who would hear them?
Our government did not.

Who would see them?
Our law enforcers did not.

Who would return for them?

You did.

And with your eyes, they were seen.

With your voice, they were heard.

With your hands, they knew comfort.

With your conviction, they were fed, rescued, and reunited.

With your resolve, they found new homes.

With your mercy, they saw love before death.

With your empathy, all were cherished and remembered.

You came from California, Canada, Texas, Minnesota, St. Louis, Washington, Florida… even as far away as Sweden. A legion of the compassionate.

Shelter workers, veterinarians, students, cops, soldiers, moms, sons, daughters, grandparents… Giant burly men and fierce lean women. You left your jobs, your families and homes to salvage lives forgotten in the wreckage.

August 29, 2005 – August 29, 2006.
Our lives are forever united in tears, grief, chaos and renewal.

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Back to School

August 1, 2006

Tonight I am registering for my Fall semester classes. It seems like it’s been forever since I was in school. Come to think of it, by the time I head back, it’ll have been nine months!

Right smack in the middle of Fall ’05 semester, Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Like everyone else, I never thought it was as bad as it really was. I continued going to classes and sent a few charities some money.

Then my birthday came in mid-September and I couldn’t celebrate it. There is more to that story than just the hurricane, but the horror we were all seeing on television added to the depression I usually feel around my birthday. The more I thought about it, the stronger I was being pulled towards New Orleans. It wasn’t until another month had past until I decided that I just had to be there to help with animal rescue.

I did help and ultimately made three trips over there, from when I first flew over on November 1 ’05 to when I returned home the day before Mardi Gras on February 28 ’06. I lived in Louisiana a total of 85 days. During that time I came to really see my tent as home. ;-)

Anyway, it’ll be nice to get back into my studies again. I haven’t spoken with my teachers since I returned, so hopefully they don’t think I dropped out. My wish is that this semester will be completely uneventful and the only "disaster" I’ll have to worry about is getting a bad grade on my final.

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