Tropical Cyclone Noru, also known locally as Karding, came westward over the east coast of the Philippines on September 25, reaching super typhoon intensity. This is one of the fastest intensifications in the Pacific basin yet to be observed. In times like this, what happens to our furry family members? Many people’s lives are now back to normal, but for some the effects of the super storm that hit on September 25 could linger for years.
Each new disaster brings an unexpected event. Many pet owners who wish to take their pets with them in an emergency find that there is little or no choice of shelter or evacuation. Public health problems can result from this disregard for the welfare of companion animals during a calamity. In my opinion, this is an issue that needs to be urgently and thoroughly discussed in Congress because our nation is one that frequently encounters such natural disasters. I’m sure there are plenty of articles out there on how to protect your pets during a storm. With this article, I will just share our personal experience with the recent super typhoon. Luckily only my daughter, Yumi, and I were home when the storm hit because otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to save our animals like we did last Sunday.
Other humans would not have approved of us taking all the animals inside the house with us because it is their home and they are just sharing it with us. We don’t have a house of our own yet. And, most likely, we would both have been devastated and overwhelmed with anxiety and tension knowing that the animals would undoubtedly suffer from the storm outside. But of course I wouldn’t let the animals suffer in the storm. I would definitely fight for the safety of our animals.
We had recently repaired all the containment areas for our rescued and adopted cats and dogs before the storm arrived. Our first adopted dog, Milky, and the second pair of rescued queens (one has five kittens) were the only pets we had inside the house. But when we learned that the storm was definitely going to turn into a super typhoon, Yumi and I talked about backup plans to get all the animals inside the house because for sure, the containment zones wouldn’t hold. Not good in a super storm as they were made only from farm scraps. Still, we hoped for the best and didn’t take the animals inside sooner than we did.
When the super storm peaked on the evening of the 25th and no matter how hard I tried to fix the containment areas over and over during the storm, the inevitable happened – we had to brave the winds heavy storms and rains to get all the animals out of their containment areas and bring them inside the house. One by one, I took the dogs with me as the water rose around the house. The strong winds swayed us strongly, threatening to throw us off balance. We had to wait for the thunder and lightning to subside before heading back out to get another dog to safety. It was difficult to do it quickly due to heavy rain and darkness. The electricity had already been cut off at that time. The only light I had was from the small flashlight my daughter held to light my way home. I didn’t let her out because it was extremely dangerous. When we were finally all in, even though we were all soaked from the rains and the flood, all the animals were happily licking us, as if saying, “Thanks for not leaving us out there in the storm!”
By the time we managed to dry ourselves off and somehow organize the space, it was almost eleven o’clock at night. The only time I was able to cook dinner for everyone so we could get a good night’s sleep at the moment was at this particular time. We were forced to spend the night in the reception area as the room we had slept in had become completely damp as the plastic covering of the large windows had been blown off by the strong winds of the storm.
Animal companions have a vital role in human culture. However, in the event of a disaster, evacuating and sheltering pets is often overlooked. This disregard could have an impact on public health. Communities with a large pet population should develop contingency plans for their pets during disasters, which will build community resilience and improve public health. One of the most documented and widely recognized effects of disaster-related pet loss is the psychological stress, which can occur when people are forced to flee without their pets – something something that could have happened to my daughter and myself if we were forced to leave the animals outside the house, in the storm, because it is not our house and we do not have not our say on who stays and no. For what happened, I can truly say that God is good all the time! He certainly heard and answered my prayers for us and our animals.
About the Author: Mariana Burgos is an independent artist. She has been a single mother for 14 years now because she is the wife of a desaparacido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in the defense of not only human rights, but also animal rights.