September is ‘National Disaster Preparedness Month,’ and the SPCA Albrecht Center is getting ready for the upcoming hurricane season, which has devastated the Atlantic coast over the last few years. Luckily, the CSRA is inland and has not been severely affected by these storms, other than heavy rain and winds. However, our friends to the south and east have not been so lucky.
In 2016, Hurricane Matthew, the first Category 5 hurricane since 2007, caused catastrophic destruction to Haiti and along the southeastern coast. Just a short year later, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey rocked the Atlantic. In 2018 Hurricane Florence and Michael hit the Carolinas and Florida coast with a vengeance, and, last year, Hurricane Dorian slammed the Bahamas and the Southeast. Though the SPCA Albrecht Center and other area shelters were safe from these storms, neighboring communities were preparing for a direct hit.
It seems inevitable that hurricane season spells ‘disaster’ for shelters along the coast, and at the SPCA Albrecht Center, we use this time of year to prepare for the impending storms. With our friends at Charleston Animal Society and No Kill South Carolina, South Carolina shelters work together every year to create a ‘disaster plan.’
This plan includes establishing a network of shelters, rescues and national organizations to assist in transporting homeless animals out of harm’s way. Year after year, organizations from all over the country step up to provide a safe haven for hundreds of vulnerable animals. Since 2016, the SPCA Albrecht Center has taken in a total of 102 dogs and three bunnies ahead of these powerful storms. This not only keeps coastal shelter animals out of the hurricane’s path, but also allows shelters closer to the impacted areas to have space for emergency intakes after the storm surge.
This year, shelters are now working to create a plan that includes precautions in relation to COVID-19 to ensure all staff involved in hurricane rescues stay safe and healthy so that lifesaving efforts can continue smoothly and effectively. On July 16th, SPCA CEO & President, Barbara Nelson, and Shelter Manager, Sybil Altman, attended a meeting in Charleston to discuss these safety measures and how to set up a transport system with the SPCA Albrecht Center as a distribution center for animals displaced by upcoming storms.
Hurricane relief animals are set up to be transported to Charleston as the central distribution center for North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. They are then distributed to inland shelters, rescues and national organizations. However, with Charleston on the coast there needed to be a second, inland hub in the event the South Carolina coast is hit by hurricanes. This year, the SPCA Albrecht Center is working to be this ‘second stop’ for both shelter animals and strays from the coast.
As a distribution center for hurricane relief animals, the SPCA Albrecht Center would provide medical care, veterinary and behavioral evaluations and scan the animals for microchips to return to owners. Animals without owners, or who came to us from another shelter, will be placed for adoption or transported to another, safe shelter.
As per any effort of the SPCA Albrecht Center, this plan is a community effort and we are calling upon our amazing supporters to help us prepare for the imminent time when we take in animals from the coast. The 2020 hurricane season is expected to last until November 30th, and we are hoping to take time before the forthcoming season to prepare.
On our website, supporters can find our ‘Wish List,’ detailing items that we are always in need of at the shelter, as well as an online donation form so we can purchase necessary supplies and provide medical care. From towels and blankets to food and toys to veterinary care, we graciously welcome donated supplies and monetary contributions that are needed to provide a quality of care for our shelter and hurricane relief animals: LetLoveLive.org/Donate.
In addition to supplies, we are asking supporters to donate their time. Volunteers and fosters are vital to our organization. They work tirelessly to ensure our animals get the care and find the homes they deserve. During times of crisis, volunteers come in to walk our dogs and help keep their kennels clean and cozy, and fosters make room for incoming homeless animals by caring for one of our amazing shelter animals in their home.
For more information about how to become a volunteer: LetLoveLive.org/Volunteer.
For more information about how to become a foster parent: LetLoveLive.org/Foster.
We wish all of you a safe hurricane season, and remember to plan ahead for you and your pet:
Evacuate With Your Pets
Please do not leave your pets behind in the storm.
Make plans now to get your pet checklist accomplished:
Have recent photos of your pet, in case he or she is lost
Make sure your pet’s collar is secured and that the ID tag is up-to-date
Get your pet microchipped
Place medicine in a waterproof container
Bring any medical records you have (a great idea is to email them to yourself)
Bring a crate for your animal when you evacuate
Bring food, water and toys
Don’t forget garbage bags
An Aiken native and self-proclaimed cat lady, Claire Roberson is the SPCA Albrecht Center’s Communications Director, working in marketing, grant writing and media correspondence. She attended College of Charleston, where she graduated with a degree in Nonprofit Business and interned with Charleston Animal Society, the leader in No-Kill South Carolina. When not working, you can find Claire hanging out with her 18-pound Maine Coon mix, Anakin.