Texas gears up for countdown to Ike
Animal care agencies prepare for storm's strike
September 10, 2008 (published)
Austin, Texas — Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered the pre-deployment of state resources today as Hurricane Ike spins toward the state’s coast.
That means the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), along with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Service, is standing by to assist for Ike-response operations.
Forecasters anticipate that the Category-2 hurricane will reach Category 3 strength and make landfall near Corpus Christi by Saturday evening, leading state officials to prepare to launch evacuation measures. Hurricanes typically pick up speed and force as they feed off the Gulf’s warm waters, so the longer a storm lingers at sea, the stronger it gets, experts say.
On Monday, the governor issued a disaster declaration for 88 counties, which allows the state to provide assistance to local officials. According to state leaders, TAHC Area Command will be activated at the TAHC Central Office. The Texas State Animal Resource Team, owned and operated by the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation, is coordinating with its member organizations and other animal-care agencies to prepare for animal sheltering and assist the TAHC command center, says Elbert Hutchins, Texas Veterinary Medical Association executive director.
“We have several veterinarians in every county who are identified as contact people,” he explains. “The call for volunteer opportunities won’t come until after the storm hits and we assess the damages.”
In the meantime, Texas A&M University’s veterinary college in College Station is identifying evacuation shelters for individuals traveling with pets. According spokeswoman Angela Clendenin, it’s important that owners report to the reception center at Veteran’s Park to receive shelter assignments.
Small animals will be housed at a site run by the Brazos Valley Small Animal Response Team, she says. Texas A&M faculty and fourth-year students will manage a large-animal shelter at the Brazos Expo Center, which has a limited capacity of 200 horses, 80 head of cattle and 80 small ruminants and pigs. The small- and large-animal hospitals will be open for emergency care but not be available as shelter sites. Housing will be dispersed on a first-come, first-served basis.
For maps to shelter sites and additional information, visit http://www.cvm.tamu.edu.