When the recent microburst hit, I was in my home office, still operating on the “tornado watch” mode online from my local TV station. From the other room, my husband started yelling “Get the cats! Tornado warning!”
But it’s only a watch, I thought. From the north side of the house, however, we were getting pounded. The cat carriers are kept nearby and I was able to quickly load up Tekla and Sofiya. Mollie, who hates thunderstorms, was a different story; I was finally able to pull her out from under a chair – by her tail – and stuff her in a carrier. With the carriers stashed against an inside wall (and Tekla making her displeasure known), we got the house buttoned up and sat down at the kitchen table to catch our breath. Of course, then the power went out.
The storms that packed some serious punch along the shoreline were Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and this summer’s Isaias and the tornado/microburst.
A hurricane — or any natural disaster — can take an incalculable toll in human life and property. However, there’s another element that goes on behind the scenes. Prior to Katrina people were forced to leave their animals behind since shelters for humans would not accommodate pets, and people lost their lives because they refused to abandon their pets. Katrina changed that and since then states and towns are required to have disaster plans that include pets.
The South’s experience in dealing with these storms hasn’t made it any easier for them, but we’ve probably become pretty compliant here. Our immediate area is somewhat protected from a huge storm surge by Long Island, but areas further east such as New London are more susceptible. One look at the destruction wrought by the 1938 Hurricane should be enough warning – and that was “only” a category 3 event.
While it’s relatively easy to throw some clothes in a suitcase and grab some valuables, it takes some thought to ensure the safety of our pets, especially if we have several. Moreover, given the uptick in extreme weather events, the emergency kits we created in the past need to be updated and plans for their safety need to be reviewed.
Disaster ‘to do’ list
Pack enough pet food and bottled water for a week.
Keep a couple of extra, clean litter boxes on hand with a container of litter or purchase a couple of disposable litter boxes.
Make sure ID tags are current, even if your cats live inside only; your dog’s license should be up-to-date. Consider microchipping your pet.
Create a synopsis of your pet’s medical records, veterinarian contact information and list of medications and keep together with a current photograph and/or description. TravelStix makes it easy to put all of your pet’s information on a 2-gig flash drive. There’s one for cats and one for dogs (https://travelstix.store/).
Be aware of plans made by your town and local Red Cross.
Make sure your carrier or crates are accessible and stocked with comfortable bedding, extra harnesses and/or leashes and collars; don’t forget a couple of new toys.
Have a list of pet-friendly hotels if you don’t have friends or relatives to stay with (see https://www.petswelcome.com/pet-friendly-hotels/connecticut).
The American Veterinary Medical Association has a detailed outline of disaster preparedness on its web site: https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pets-and-disasters.
Our pets offer us comfort, companionship and support and a time of crisis is not the time to let them down.