Log 03 - 03 September 2005
Our volunteers and fleet are heading into Louisiana. Communication back home is difficult right now, but we were able to forward our letter of clearance from the Office of Asset Management. This letter was e-mailed to expedite our entry into the state. We are moving into the area and hearing more and more reports of animals in need. We're working with other organizations, and will call in another report as soon as possible.
Flight to Denver, broken water line, flat tire, and a very long drive equals one long day. Our truck rolled into the staging area at Jackson, Mississippi, at 2:30 in the morning. A couple hours of sleep, and we were up, getting the truck ready for what we hope will be a busy day. Many evacuees from Southern Mississippi have been relocated to the dome at the fairgrounds in Jackson. Fortunately, a number of evacuees were able to smuggle their pets out. As well, an animal shelter was established four days ago and currently houses about 70 dogs, three pigs, a couple of goats, a couple of snakes, and a cat or two.
At 10 this morning, a team meeting was held of the HSUS, Code 3, ASPCA, Animal Rescue League of Boston, United Animal Nations, Humane Society of Missouri, and of course the American Humane Association. Fortunately for us and for the animals in southern Mississippi, we have been given the green light to work the southern coast. Once we leave Jackson, we must be completely self-contained and have adequate fuel. The gas stations limit the amount of fuel you can purchase, and the lines extend often times a half a mile in both directions.
We have heard that there are 70 dogs and 40 cats currently being housed in Slidell. Today 120 dogs were transported out of the southern coast area to other shelters. Our hope is that we can help the animals here, doing an assessment, getting an idea of what activities we might have to take care of, and eventually, either leave a team down here, or take our entire team when we move into Louisiana, where we have been asked to come and support the animal relief efforts there.
1900, or 7 pm: Our team’s all together in Hattiesburg. It isn’t until you reach Hattiesburg that you remember that there was even storm. Each mile, as you head south from town, brings an exponential level of destruction. Signs are mangled, store fronts destroyed, and trees thrown across cars. About a mile south of town, we see a fuel truck with a power pole lying across the hood, and power lines dangling on the road.
We’re trying to reach Gulfport before dark, so that we can send a unit into Ocean Springs with food and water for a couple who have been without power since the storm and have been sending me text messages since Tuesday, urging us to hurry. Each day I’ve had to tell them that we would be there just as soon as we could or as soon as we were allowed to get in.
Now 2100: Arrived in Gulfport and were advised that no night operations are allowed -- a curfew is in place and so will have to head to Ocean Springs at first light tomorrow. The truck broke down and is two hours behind us.