First humane responder to tsunami is hit by typhoon
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2005:
VISAKHAPATNAM–The Visakha SPCA, among the first humane
societies to respond to the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami,
was almost obliterated by flash-flooding following a September 19
typhoon that broke an upstream dam.
“At 11:30 a.m.,” founder Pradeep Kumar Nath noticed, “most
of the 330 cattle on the premises suddenly turned restless,” after
enduring a day and a half of heavy rain and ankle-deep standing water
in their sheds.
“They began to cry out in despair,” Nath continued.
“Immediately shelter manager Sarada Buddhiraju and deputy shelter
manager J.V.V.S. Rajsekhar threw the goshala gate open, and all of
the cattle ran out. Half an hour later the west wall gave way and
flooding began that reached eight feet. This made Sarada and Raj
rush to pull all the puppies out of the pound and a nearby storage
area where some dogs rest.
Worms were the most immediate animal casualties. “Due to
the heavy water all the 50,000 earthworms born in our vermicompost
pits have come to a tragic end,” Nath said.
Two trucks from philanthropist Manju Nath and the Karuna
Society for Animals & Nature in Puttaparthi reached the Visakha SPCA
first with help.
“The situation is worse than it looks in pictures,” e-mailed
Karuna Society director Clementien Pauws. “Although electricity is
restored in the main building, there are mud, destruction, polluted
wells, stagnant water, broken trees, pieces of walls, dirt and
filth” to cope with everywhere.
“The pumps are not working, and the pipelines are destroyed
so supplying drinking water to the animals is a problem. The entire
place is covered with cow dung and mud too deep to measure,” Pauws
“Some of the animals are sleeping outside the compound on
higher ground. Although food is available now outside the compound,”
Pauws said, “a temporary shelter and drainage is needed to keep all
the animals dry and clean during reconstruction. The animals are in
danger of getting sick, and need immediate vaccinations.
“The first job to be done is to remove all that is
destroyed,” Pauws assessed. “This has to be done by people who are
willing to get dirty, sliding in the mud, who are strong enough to
remove most of the material by hand.
“We brought from Puttaparti three masons,” Pauws added,
“but there is no dry sand available to make cement and start
reconstruction of the wells. So, all are working on the clean-up.
Pradeep hired a machine to clean out the well, but the motor is not
working and it needs repair. The work is also much hampered by heavy
The Visakha SPCA Animal Birth Control program and emergency
care for injured animals continued despite the disruption, but at a
Despite the destruction of the Visakha SPCA headquarters, Pradeep
Kumar Nath hoped “to go out and help the animals in the neighbouring
areas as soon as possible,” he told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “I think the
government will rebuild the wall,” he said. “Seven sheds and
complete flooring and drainage also must be rebuilt to withstand
future problems, and for these I am afraid I need help.”
The World Society for the Protection of Animals on September
23 sent $17,500 “to fund three outreach disaster relief teams to be
controlled by Pradeep Kumar Nath of VSPCA, in the wake of the
current flooding in Vizianagaram, Srikakulam and West Godavari,”
WSPA director general Peter Davies told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “The money
will cover the team wages and administration, medicines, vehicle
hiring and running, and animal feed.”
Humane Society International chief executive Andrew Rowan told ANIMAL
PEOPLE that HSI would help the Visakha SPCA recovery effort, and
sent HSI Southeast Asia representative Sherry Grant to Visakhapatnam
to help assess what should be done.
“With every bad, something good turns out,” Pradeep Kumar
Nath told ANIMAL PEOPLE after two weeks of clean-up and repair work.
“This disaster has helped people everywhere know that we exist for