Austin, Texas —
It’s been 11 working days without power and no income for many veterinarians in areas of Texas devastated after Hurricane Ike blew through late Sept. 13.
At least 17 Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) members practice in Galveston, where entire sections of the island no longer have inhabitants, says Elbert Hutchins, the group’s executive director.
“We’re very concerned,” he says. “We have veterinarians in at least a dozen counties who have been affected. While not all are reporting the degree of physical damage, they all have been impacted from power outages in the area. Those who have lost physical assets are doubly impacted.”
TVMA officials are in the process of gathering information concerning financial assistance and other resources, which will be posted on the group’s Web site.
Dr. Bill Folger, a VIN member who practices in Houston, now has power in his practice, but he suspects at least a 20-percent decrease in sales following the hurricane’s impact.
“Some clinics can stand that, others can’t,” he says. “We were busy on Monday, the first day we had power, but not so much after that.”
If that indicates a trend, Hutchins fears for the economic health of Texas veterinarians.
“I think it’s very bad on Galveston Island,” he says. “It’s almost two weeks later and landlines are still not working; cell phone service is very sporadic. I recently saw an aerial shot that showed there’s a good deal of the island that’s no longer there. It’s a very stark reminder of how quickly you can lose everything. And there will be another storm to come through. It’s just a matter of time here.”
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