By Emma Koeniger, Content and Digital Media Coordinator
The 2017 hurricane season has brought the most major hurricanes since 2010. Breaking records from rainfall to accumulated cyclone energy, the devastation wrought by these hurricanes has been immense. From Texas to Puerto Rico, animals and people were left without food or shelter; their homes destroyed by flooding and powerful wind.
Hurricane Irma, the strongest hurricane recorded in the Atlantic Ocean outside of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, made landfall in Florida on September 10th as a Category 4 hurricane As it traveled through the state, Irma left thousands without power, access to clean water, and many without shelter. Among the displaced, hundreds of animals were abandoned as Irma approached, leaving shelters like the Humane Society of St. Lucie County (HSSLC) at full capacity.
As Irma barreled towards HSSLC they braced for impact as best they could and pulled through without any injuries to their staff or the animals in their care. However, their facilities were left battered and uninhabitable. David Robertson, the Director of Administration at HSSLC wrote to SPCAI:
“The Humane Society of St. Lucie County received damage to many areas of its shelter as a result of Hurricane Irma. Fortunately, no animals were injured. However, damage to kennels, screened enclosures, drainage systems and fencing of exercise yards is significant in areas. We have many downed trees and large amounts of debris that can be can be handled in-house, however other tasks and repairs will require hiring professionals, such as plumbers, fencing experts, and possibly roofers, which can be costly. Metal kennel roofs were bent back like they were tin foil and some blew completely off. With so much standing water, fixing screens to avoid mosquitoes potentially carrying heartworm is a critical concern. Additionally, sewage drains backing up and overflowing are [also] immediate and critical concerns. “
After receiving Mr. Robertson’s email our team jumped into action, issuing a Disaster Relief Fund grant to HSSLC to enable them to afford all repairs needed for their shelter.
The Humane Society of St. Lucie County is not alone; many other shelters share a similar story after hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Through SPCA International’s Disaster Relief Fund shelters in Texas, Florida, Saint Martin, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic are able to begin the rebuilding process and continue to care for the animals that desperately need them.