A thank you from Eric, Hurricane Florence team leader

Our Rapid Response team arrived in Warsaw, NC just two days after Hurricane Florence made landfall. The wind had mostly subsided but the rain was relentless. Areas inland were already beginning to flood, especially along the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers. It didn’t take long to find animals who were desperate for our help; we used our boats in flooded areas where the water was too deep to walk through.

I’d like to share a few stories with you of animals we were able to help.

One of our volunteer rescuers, Ethically Elizabeth, heard a kitten screaming for help in a floating pile of debris. She was able to pull the 4-week old baby, who we later named Sylvie, into a boat where she was finally safe. Click here to watch Sylvie’s rescue – I couldn’t believe such a tiny kitten was still alive in those waters. She apparently had a real will to live!

Later, we came across two abandoned dogs who had been submerged in a foot of cold water inside their home. One of the dogs was completely blind and terrified. Fortunately, the rear door was wide open, allowing us to guide the dogs through debris and into the safety of our boats. I can’t imagine what they had to endure during the storm and the few days after until we were able to rescue them.

We also responded to a desperate plea from an elderly woman who had to be rescued by boat but wasn’t allowed to take her cats with her. Our hearts break for these people who are put into situations that nobody should ever have to be in. My teammate Rhett and I were able to boat in to find her cats, bring them to safety, and reunite them with their very worried family.

Along the way, we worked with locals to make sure stranded animals who we weren’t able to bring into our care, like feral cats in trees, would be given food and fresh water until the flood waters receded. Due to a lack of safe shelter in the areas in which they were found, other animals we rescued were transported back to our Asheville adoption center. With reports filed with officials in their communities and 30-day holds before they are made available for adoption, we’re hoping to reunite even more of them with their loving families. Click here to see our album of found animals.

I also witnessed thousands of farmed animals who never stood a chance. This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to see. Thanks to The Guardian for interviewing me and covering this part of the story — the one that mainstream media is reluctant to share. If you missed it, read it here.

Our time on the coast wasn’t easy. Each day was exhausting, dangerous, and emotionally taxing. We witnessed unfathomable amounts of destruction and death. But because of your support, we were also able to witness and facilitate hope, relief, and rescue.

Thank you for helping us save lives.In rescue,

Eric Phelps
Field Operations Manager

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