Local agencies prepare for Florence's arrival
While preparing for a big event, sometimes you can forget about the little things. As people are trying to gather batteries, food, water, and other supplies in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Florence, it is important to remember those who need our assistance as well.
If you are the owner of a dog or cat, you understand that storms can make them really uncomfortable. Since they cannot understand what is going on, the pounding winds, driving rains, and cracks of thunder can be a very scary thing.
Jerry Henderson, president of the Lenoir County SPCA, had some tips for pet owners as the storm approaches.
“Food, water, and shelter are things (pet owners) need to take seriously,” Henderson said. “They should be given adequate water and food supplies just in case. If you have to leave them in your house while you evacuate, ask a neighbor to check up on them. Put a sign up in the window to let rescuers know that there is a pet inside in case things get bad with rising waters.“
If you have a large pet, an outside animal, or an animal that you cannot transport with you, there are some important things to remember.
“Bring them inside if at all possible,” Henderson said. “If they are staying outside, do not tie them up. Make sure your animals have access to shelter. If you had to evacuate, the animal would be totally defenseless. Animals look for shelter. They will try to find high ground and shelter if they are free and on their own. If you left them alone in a low area, tied up, they can’t escape.
Henderson said many people who evacuated during Hurricane Matthew left animals tied in their yards, and subsequently drowned.
“If you don't have shelter and can't take them with you, put them in a barn or someplace where they can be protected from the elements,” Henderson said.
Animal shelters are not currently a viable option for pets of evacuees since most of them are at capacity already.
In Kinston, the Neuseway Nature Park is also making preparations for Hurricane Florence. Two years ago, Hurricane Matthew wrecked havoc on the park as it sits just off the bank of the Neuse River. When the river overflowed, the park was inundated with water.
“It wasn’t so much the hurricane as it was the aftermath,” said Bobby Cox, the recreation center supervisor. “We had five feet of water all over the park. We had to redo the building and move displays around and do some repairs. Overall, it took about a year for us to reopen. The hurricane (Matthew) came through on October 6th, and we reopened October 1st the following year.”
The last time a major hurricane hit, the devastation of the flood, with much of the water coming down the rivers from the Raleigh area, took many by surprise.
“This time, we are being more proactive,” Cox said. “We are moving some of the displays and all of the animals to get ahead of this storm. With all of the projected storm tracks, there will be a massive amount of rain, especially to the west and that can be worse for us than Matthew. We have a great recreation department in Kinston. They and all of the city maintenance crews came together and within 10 hours we’d moved everything to safety. We're going to try to save everything.”