Saturday, October 01, 2005

Hurricane Katring - Bird Rescue Continues

An update of ongoing bird rescues in the New Orleans area affected by Hurricane Kartina.

An Experience with Hurricane Rita

TRUE HURRICANE RITA EXPERIENCE by Nathalie Ross of Houston Back from the Mess! I have to tell you what I experienced. Pure mercy, pure love, pure Hell, and then pure miracles from God. I had booked way ahead for a hotel, rented a cargo van, got all our carriers ready, filled our tanks with gas, got our house boarded up, etc, etc. I did so when people were saying "No, it's never going to come here _ it'll never be a category 5. They won't have us evacuate". People thought I was nuts. "You're really going to leave??" I said "Yes _ I hope I'm wrong. I'll be the first to admit it!" But I was determined to leave. The storm grew and it became evident that leaving was the better option. Even people who said they weren't going to started planning. I was already set. Then the city said voluntarily evacuate. We left way early on Thursday morning, drove for 9 hours to get just over 30 miles in our pickup truck with three horses, 13 birds, dogs, cats, ferrets, guinea pigs, a rabbit, and five chickens.... and got stuck in the heat. Cars were stalling all around us, we were hearing "We'll give you gasoline", but I didn't see anyone getting any gas or relief. We heard "They're going to open up the lanes, even saw the military with "hurricane chasers" written on the back of their truck, and waved at them with thumbs up in joy. We got no relief. We heard endless promises from politicians who I have decided are NO better than the ones that got New Orleans in a ton of trouble with their lack of preparedness _ only we had no excuse. We had just witnessed Katrina and knew better. The truck started heating up despite the air conditioner. It was over 100 degrees in the truck with the air conditioning, and the horses were in the back in a dark green horse trailer facing the sun and with us not moving. No water. Our trip to Seguin, TX was supposed to be 5 hours max (3 hours typically). My horses are all geriatric and one, being terribly old, particularly frail. We had to stop at a gas station and squirt them down with water, and try to get them to drink. We had a half tank of gas and lots of promises in our heads of how things were going to open up on the freeway. We misted the birds and dogs and cats, and the air from the air conditioning. We took about 30 minutes to get cooled down, but things started to just get worse. The birds started to get incredibly hot. We took out pineapple and strawberries that we had for the trip in the cooler and fed those to them. We tried to get them to drink anything _ even gatorade, but they wouldn't. Finally we had to get back on the highway and try again, but getting back on we were just sitting beside a fire department vehicle with his siren running. He couldn't go anywhere; no one could. Not the ambulances, not the police, not the people with the supposed gas. We couldn't turn the truck off because we'd lose air conditioning. Picture one of those boxes covered with tin foil that they use as a sun_oven and you get the picture. We rolled down the window and asked the fire guys where the accident was. It was about 10 minutes away on a good day _ which meant four hours away for us. So we begged and pleaded, as I continued to sob and scream trying to get off of the freeway. I talked to Richard and Lynell (bless them both!!) and must have sounded hysterical _ because I was. How could I not be? At that point every bird in my truck was panting, one was laying down, an older cat laid down and peed on herself and wouldn't move. They were going to die. I had brought them all with me to save them, and was going to kill them with my attempts to keep them alive. And I couldn't do anything about it. Finally I found a gas station that, although not open, had water. We stopped and, thanks to Richard and his awesome advice, went from soaking the birds to totally DOUSING the birds in water. Note that the seat was out of the truck and we had carriers neatly arranged on open shelving with space for air flow. Well it was good space for water flow, too. I literally sprayed the hose on the birds INSIDE of my truck, sprayed towels and a sweatshirt with water and slammed them in the doors (we had them over the windows before trying to reduce the ant_under_the_magnifying_ glass effect). We rolled down the windows in the back so the air could come through the openings past the wet towels and even took the last bit of ice from the cooler and put it on leg wraps on tops of cages just to try to make it better. We had been saving ice to try to get the birds to drink it. Then we took off for who knows where. I found a back road going North and just drove. I had 1/4 tank of gas left at this point and no options. The next freeway at which I arrived was just as bad as the last. But at least we had gotten some movement of air in the truck. Steven and I knew then that we had no choice. There was no gas anywhere, we had to go home to the super storm. So we turned around and hauled tush. Remember it took us 9 hours to get where we were.... it took us 20 minutes to get home. Twenty minutes! We got home with all of our cats, dogs, birds, etc., alive. We knew at least we'd have air conditioning at home for a while, and then living in the house (if it were livable) afterwards would be a whole lot cooler than sitting in the Coleman Stove on Wheels called my truck. I hate thunder storms and went through Camille when I was four and swore I would never stick out a hurricane again. And here I was, going right back to it. AND with no provisions! See, we bought food for the trip and about 2 days to spare (and water, drinks) but figured we could get groceries in Seguin. Only we weren't going to Seguin now. Back at the house, there was ONE store still open _ a little store around the corner, so we loaded up on vienna sausages, Armor Treet, and more gatorade (we had resorted to misting our birds with that at one point!!). And we went home. The birds all got apple juice and pedialyte, the cats and dogs etc got pedialyte, too. Two of the birds had drooping wings even two hours after getting home, but in the evening they rallied some.That night everyone slept hard, and I woke up worrying about the 'next day' effects of heat exhaustion of my birds. They were all fine. Amazing! Brilliant and amazing. So then we started preparing. We found two fifty-five-gallon horse feed drums and a forty-gallon one and filled them up; got as ready as we could and waited and prayed.We heard horror stories about "four days of flooding to follow the storm", and "everyone should turn their gas off" despite the fact that our gas company told us not to. I started thinking that we'd have a gas line leak in a bathroom with all these birds in carriers, and cats, etc. We went out and against the gas company's advice turned our own gas off. We watched buildings burned to the ground in Galveston and in nearby South Houston. Finally we lost power and turned on the portable TV and ate Chicken Cacciatore. I had to do something with the chicken that was going to go bad. The storm came, and just died out. All the praying and all the glory of God, it just fizzled. Even I, the one who is afraid of thunder storms, slept by the chimney listening to it Bong like a kettle drum, and the winds soar by. I slept on the floor, while the birds slept in their carriers again. When we got up this morning, Rita was a shadow of her former self and it was wonderfully cool outside. Few winds, NO damage. Just one big tree down and it only cracked a top board of a pen we don't use. No house damage, and we had water! We opened up some storm shutters to get cool air in and looked around the neighborhoods. Some damage, not bad. So we went home and low_ and_behold. Electricity!Folks, I've never been shy about my beliefs. And I apologize if this offends, but I feel like the most blessed girl in the world. I'm sitting in my bed (with achy feet _ let me tell ya) in air conditioning, with lights, and internet service, and ALL of my babies are alive. All of them _ even the loose geese and chickens. I started into a nightmare and was instead given miracles and incredible mercy. I will never ever look at the simple things in life the same way again. Ever.Most of all, I will never ever forget the outpouring of prayers and well_wishes that I got from some very dear people. Richard's advice literally saved my flock. He's really their hero! Lynell saved my sanity. She's my best friend. And those of you who called, and worried, and emailed _ God heard your prayers. Thank you. Thank you for caring. I'm honored to have you as friends. I'm humbled. And I'm now in tears. But they're good ones. Anyway, it was a long trip. I wanted you guys to know what we went through and how some people helped us tremendously, but mostly how thankful I am for answered prayers.Your friend, Nathalie

Permission to reprint: Yes please, pass it on. I want people to be able to learn from my situation to save their animals in case they ever get in a pinch. The evacuation could just as easily have been a summer road trip, or evacuation because of a chemical truck crashing, or even an accident on the highway on a routine trip to the vet. Of course, probably not for nine hours then. Thank you for your prayers. And for thanking God, because he really blew out all the stops this weekend. Nathalie

Product Review - The Healthy Bird Cookbook

Just discovered this really cool cookbook for birds available at . Lots and lots of fun recipes to try, some even to share with your bird. The birds say we must try some around here this weekend. If you like to cook for your bird(s) we think you will enjoy this cookbook.

The Forgotten Ones

This will truly make you feel the pain of the animals. Have those tissue boxes handy before you click.