Hurricane Ida — which blew ashore on the 16th anniversary of Katrina — left many coastal Louisiana residents stranded by floodwaters and pleading to be rescued Monday.
One of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. mainland weakened into a tropical storm overnight, pushing inland over Mississippi with soaking rain and severe winds.
Before the storm made landfall, Delaware Valley animal welfare advocates mobilized teams in Louisiana to move more than 100 cats and dogs out of the path of Hurricane Ida.
On Saturday, the Brandywine Valley SPCA helped airlift 110 homeless pets to safety.
The high-intake shelter, located in rural Louisiana about 45 minutes north of New Orleans, has been working with members of the BVSPCA since January as part of a year-long effort to increase life-saving rates there.
Chip Fitz, director of animal services for Tangipahoa Parish, said the relationship has changed how it approaches and responds to this type of severe weather event.
“By opening these kennels, we’re able to bring in animals from the most southern parishes that have to order mandatory evacuations,” Fitz said in a statement. “It will also give us space for the animal rescues that will more than likely take place after the storm from the storm itself and possible subsequent flooding.”
Without such efforts, Fitz explained, “all of our southern shelters become overwhelmed immediately.”
The cats and dogs airlifted from Louisiana are now available for adoption through BVSPCA locations, as well as local BVSPCA partners and an ASPCA partner in New England.
Now that the animals have made it to safety, the BVSPCA is asking for the community’s help, whether via adoption, fostering, and/or donating to support the rescue mission.
Between Saturday and Sunday, BVSPCA officials said, nearly 170 pets were adopted across its campuses.
As Louisiana residents assess the damage from Ida, including a shattered electric grid amid sweltering heat, animal welfare advocates are preparing for what’s to come.
Shelter officials told WHYY News that information from their southern partners remains limited. More than one million people were left without power, and officials warned it may be weeks before the grid is fixed. What officials do know, BVSPCA Marketing Director Linda Torelli said, is that some of the shelters BVSPCA has helped have sustained flooding. Others expect to be without power and water “for some time.”
In the meantime, Torelli said, BVSPCA has a rescue bus — which can carry about 120 pets — prepped and ready to deploy as soon as it can get into the area. And a second evacuation flight with Wings of Rescue, which will be able to hold another 120 pets, is already lined up.
To help incentivize Delaware Valley residents who may have flirted with the idea of adopting a pet, BVSPCA is continuing to waive adoption fees through Sunday, Sept. 5
“Adopting one pet at this time saves the life of two,” said Torelli. “It rescues the cat or dog adopted while making space to relocate a hurricane victim.”
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