Winter flooding hits northwest

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1997:

the second time in three years, winter
flooding put the Emergency
Animal Rescue Service division of
United Animal Nations to the test
within commuting distance of the
UAN headquarters.
A harbinger came with a
November 19 coastal storm featuring
70-mile-an-hour winds and a
record 6.7 inches of rainfall in 24
hours, that hit at least two Oregon
no-kill sanctuaries hard. The Red
Bear Animal & Plant Sanctuary near
Bandon, Oregon, suffered roof
damage, said founder Anne Barnes.
The newly founded Ark
Refuge, alongside the Tillamook
River, was overwhelmed even
before securing nonprofit status, by
the arrival of animals from flooded
neighbors, claimed Ark founder
Eddie White, who also runs a riding
stable and has apparently come
under critical scrutiny from the
Oregon Humane Society.

Seeking help from established
animal protection organizations
all over the U.S., White was
assisted by the Los Angeles pet registry
1-800-4-PETS and the Best
Friends Animal Sanctuary.
The next bad storm hit
Washington after Christmas, inundating
the Northwest Organization
for Animal Help on Camano Island.
Then came California’s
turn. Terri Crisp of UAN-EARS
issued a January 2 alert anticipating
animal rescue work along the
Russian River and smaller streams
in Santa Clara County. The
Redwood Empire Veterinary
Association set up temporary holding
facilities in Sebastopol for the
pets of people who were forced out
of their homes. But the greater need
came when a dike broke near
Sacramento. America OnLine Pet
Care Forum and Humane Society of
Missouri animal emergency relief
coordinator Cecily Westerman
issued frequent advisories on
progress, while the relatively tiny
Promoting Animal Welfare Society,
of Paradise, California, sent
$5,000 to help EARS.
“It is the time to pull out
all stops in providing whatever aid
and assistance we can,” said PAWS
board member Bob Plumb.
Among many dramatic
rescues of stranded people, two pet
pickups on January 6 wowed TV
audiences. In one case a pilot landed
his helicopter on the roof of a
sinking house and a photographer
leaned out to grab a dog. In the
other case, a rescuer rappelled
down a rope from a helicopter to
save a desperate border collie.
Through January 8, the
water kept rising and the situation
got worse. “This is a massive operation,
with about 500 animals rescued
so far,” Deborah Horn of
EARS reported. “This does not
include the large herds of cattle and
horses that the Fish and Wildlife
people have rescued and sent to
other sites. There is a lot of diesel
fuel in the flood waters. This, combiend
with hypothermia, dehydration,
starvation, etc., is bringing us
animals who need a lot of medical
care. The California Veterinary
Medical Association has been great
to provide us with about three vets
at all times” at temporary headquarters
in the state fairgrounds.
Hundreds of chained cattle
died in barns in some areas
because police wouldn’t let the
farmers and other rescuers go back
for them. “The sheriff’s department
just wouldn’t let us in,” complained
would-be rescuer David Louis.
“They wouldn’t help us, so 200
head died a slow death.” Eventually
the California Highway Patrol overruled
the sheriff’s deputies,
enabling Louis and members of the
Poldervaart family, of Arboga,
California, to save 139 head.
Crisp took solace in saving
one calf from a barn near
Marysville. “The whole herd was
dead,” she said, “but somehow this
mother hung on until she could
deliver her baby. If we hadn’t been
there, the calf would have drowned
in three feet of water.”
The flooding not only
diverted animal rescue resources,
but also brought intensified nuisance
wildlife problems to communities
just outside the disaster zone,
as raccoons, rats, snakes, and even
coyotes sought dry ground. Too
much water also menaced chinook,
steelhead, and coho salmon in the
Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta and
San Francisco Bay ecosystems, as
erosion destroyed spawning beds
and silted the streams.
There was a plus for animal
rescuers: on January 10, the
Federal Emergency Management
Agency issued a long-awaited
reminder to disaster relief officals
around the U.S., urging that animal
rescue be built into preparedness.

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