Natural Disasters

Locals Carry Out Life-Saving Animal Rescues After Hurricane Florence

If you need help during a disaster, look to the locals before the government.


|||Screenshot via Twitter/adrianasdiaz
Screenshot via Twitter/adrianasdiaz

As is often the case during disasters, the floods that followed Hurricane Florence have produced many stories of good Samaritans helping those in harm's way. Take the animal rescuers.

A Tennessee trucker by the name of Tony Alsup decided to drive an old school bus from Greenback to various animal shelters in South Carolina that would be affected by the storm. He collected 53 dogs and 11 cats from shelters in North Myrtle Beach, Dillon, Georgetown, and Orangeburg. He took the animals to a shelter in Foley, Alabama, where they could be safe from the storm and adopted. Alsup made similar rescues in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico after storms hit last year. Alsup is particularly fond of dogs that are "big and a little ugly," and thus not as likely to be rescued.

Just before Hurricane Florence made landfall, Twitter user Ali Standish shared a picture of North Carolinians waiting in line to foster pets to help shelters evacuate quicker.

CBS reporter Adriana Diaz came across a pastor holding a wet kitten in the middle of North Carolina rains and floods. The man was part of a church group that was going around helping animals. Diaz also showed two dogs waiting on the stairs after being rescued by the church group.

Three workers at an animal shelter in Carteret County Humane Society in North Carolina found themselves trapped with 123 animals. The flood waters forced the staffers to the second floor, only to face the danger of a collapsed roof. The Cajun Navy, a group of Louisiana-based boat owners who volunteer for rescues, helped evacuate the shelter.

Reason's Jesse Walker has observed that federal agencies—and bureaucratic charities like the Red Cross—lack the decentralized flexibility and effectiveness displayed in efforts like these. The most reliable actors in times of crisis tend to be those with local knowledge, proximity to the disaster's victims, and an ability to maneuver quickly.

Bonus links: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a long track record of poor storm preparedness and response. Last year the agency managed to leave nearly a million unopened water bottles on a Puerto Rican airstrip; they were discovered a year after Hurricane Maria hit the island. If you want help, you'd do better looking to the Waffle House.

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  1. You left off the part of the story where they were cited for doing something without a permit.

  2. You can save but you cannot eat them.

    1. 25 million Venezuelans would disagree.

  3. Did they have permission? Were they obeying orders? No? Arrest the motherfuckers!

    1. Dogs and cats got saved; squirrels, chipmunks, bunnies, skunks, opossum, raccoons, deer, etc. can all go drown in a lake.

      You see a story about courageous animal rescuers, I see the man perpetuating animal inequality.

      1. How would you feel if they dispatched the local police for target practice?

        1. How is a chipmunk supposed to pull the trigger, let alone hold a gun? C'mon man, be serious.

      2. I was being facetious, but if people attempted to save wild animals they would indeed be facing federal charges. Better not post pics of that squirrel or deer that you nursed back to health on Facederp. If you do there's a good chance you will get a visit from a warden who will kill the animal and place you under arrest.

        Only people with proper licenses and permits who ask permission and obey orders can do that.

        1. As if asking were enough. No, you must be granted permission. And you probably won't be.

          1. Good point.

  4. If you need anything help during a disaster, look to the locals before the government.

    1. Look to complete strangers 2000 miles away before looking to the government.

  5. That is a great story. We need more of those.

  6. America is great because we help each other out. #universalbasicincome #youknowyouwantit #justlikeAlaskaoilchecks

  7. Not surprised. I live just east of Redding, CA. During the recent Carr fire one could see a lot of this same activity. We have a fenced in pasture of about one acre and accepted a dozen goats. I noticed other neighbors suddenly had animals in their fields or horse stalls that were not there before. I know one of the local casinos which has an equestrian center allowed people, at no charge, to bring larger livestock to its facility. I helped in moving animals for several days. We also let a few friends stay at our house for the first few nights after the mandatory evacuation orders went out in parts of town.

  8. But now you've got the problem of feeding and caring for these beasts, if you had let the local authorities do their jobs all these animals would have been shot to death and wouldn't be a burden to anybody. The pets they were rescuing would probably have been shot, too.

    1. 'But now you've got the problem of feeding and caring for these beasts,...' Don't talk about my children like that!

  9. dear police: how to treat animals.

  10. The people who leave their dogs behind should not be reunited. Cats are different since they will hide where you can't retrieve them in order to evacuate them. I can't get my cat in a box for the life of me so if there is an emergency he will probably be on his own

  11. "If you need help during a disaster, look to the locals before the government."

    This article must be written for animals because it makes no mention of the tremendous assistance in rescuing and helping actual people, fixing all the infrastructure, the billions of dollars needed...

    Can the author not imagine what it would be like if only locals were available for the rescue and relief efforts? It's like claiming locals are better than firefighters with a house fire because a neighbor rescued the cat.

  12. If you have ever lived in a rural or semi-rural area and depended at least in part on volunteer fire departments, search-and-rescue groups and so forth you know that they are always the first line of response to natural disasters including fires and floods. The formal first responders are typically too taken up with dealing with the disaster itself to handle the "collateral damage". And yes, the efforts include people as well as animals; you will see local schools and churches opened up for families along with the large properties that make space available for the animals. Much of this is prearranged in anticipation of the disastrous event. Don't sneer at any of this; if it were not for these efforts the effects of the natural disaster would be far worse than they are already.

  13. I hear there's a thriving market for dog in Venezuela.

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