Log 21 - 29 September 2005
We arrived in Lake Charles last night around midnight, after a 3 hour drive plus an hour wait for diesel fuel at a gas station. In comparison to New Orleans, Lake Charles seems rural and surprisingly dry. The city and surrounding communities were hit by Hurricane Rita and a have been without power ever since. The city was evacuated and now is guarded by National Guard troops and police. Few residents have stayed and road blocks keep out onlookers. The nights are eerily quiet and dark.
The team woke up this morning to find that they would be in Lake Charles for the next 7 to 10 days. Last weekend the over 200 rescued animals were relocated from the local shelter to make room for possible Hurricane Rita animal victims. Now we have a near empty facility to accommodate the hundreds of animals in need in the area. The early morning was filled with the organization of equipment on our 83 foot mobile rescue rig. This meant that the team took basically everything out of the trailer and cleaned and organized it in a way to provide a more effective rescue operation. At the same time we did a helicopter reconnaissance of the area, determining where the greatest need was and where the team would go in first. With trees and power lines down all over the area, the roads are blocked and operations will likely be difficult.
Our trained volunteers spent the afternoon riding along with local animal control officers patrolling the nearly deserted neighborhoods. Very few residents stayed throughout the Hurricane, but the ones who stayed have been feeding dozens of animals for their neighbors. Our volunteers were repeatedly approached by residents in need of food for neighborhood pets.
One thing about Lake Charles that should be noted is that a lot of families own a lot of pets; it is not uncommon for one household to have 4-5 dogs/cats.
Our volunteers do encounter dangerous situations. Volunteer Colleen was out on patrol with a local animal control officer when they met up with a neighbor who was concerned with a loose dog. The dog, a German Shepard had been left behind and was without food and water. As Colleen stepped out of the vehicle the dog charged her with teeth bared and hackles up, Colleen immediately returned to the truck while the dog snarled at her through the glass. Not to be deterred, Colleen climbed through the back window of the truck and pushed food out to the dog. Despite its protective nature, the dog was indeed hungry and ate it up.
We should start operations today or tomorrow morning at the latest. Looks like we’ll be busy for the next few days but that’s what we’re all here for!