Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Prepare your pets for the next disaster

Series on Hurricane Preparedness in Florida

Disaster recovery officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Florida Long-Term Recovery Office and Florida’s State Emergency Response Team (SERT) urge you to have a disaster plan for your pets in preparation for the new hurricane season.

"The destructive hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 underscored the importance of accounting for animal needs during major disasters," said Scott Morris, FEMA Director for Florida Long-Term Recovery.

With hurricane season upon us, your pets need to be included in your family emergency plan.


"People must have a disaster plan that includes their pets," said Laura Bevan, southeast regional director for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). "Our best advice is if you evacuate, take your pet with you."

Bevan has been working with local governments and volunteer groups in establishing pet-friendly shelters. Many Florida counties have shelters where people can evacuate with their pets, including Broward, Marion and Orange Counties. Bevan describes the shelters as having "people in one building and the animals close by in another part of the building and the people take care of their own pets."

To find out if there is a pet-friendly shelter in your area, call your county emergency management office or check the office's Web site. You should also contact your veterinarian or local humane society for information on preparing your pets for an emergency.


Before the disaster: Have a safe place to take your pets

• Plan your evacuation strategy and don't forget your pet! If you plan to shelter your pet-work it into your evacuation route planning.

• Service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters. It may be difficult to find shelter for your animals in the midst of a disaster, so plan ahead. Do not wait until disaster strikes to do your research. Many communities are developing pet-friendly shelter plans, check to see if your local emergency shelter plan includes pets.


• Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm's way are ALL potential refuges for your pet during a disaster.


• Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size, and species. Ask if "no pet" policies could be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of "pet friendly" places, including phone numbers, with other disaster information and supplies. If you have notice of an impending disaster, call ahead for reservations. Go to http://www.petswelcome.com/ to search on-line for pet friendly hotels and motels.


• Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers.


• Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster. Animal shelters may be overburdened caring for the animals they already have as well as those displaced by a disaster, so this should be your last resort.


• Prepare a portable disaster supply kit for your pet


• Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be carried easily

• Proper identification, including immunization records, and current photos


• Ample supply of food and water


• A carrier or cage, pet beds and toys


• Medications, medical records and a first aid kit


• Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can't escape.


• Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.


Know what to do as a disaster approaches


Often, warnings are issued hours, even days, in advance. At the first hint of disaster, act to protect your pet.


Call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.


Check to be sure your pet disaster supplies are ready to take at a moment’s notice.


Bring all pets into the house so that you won’t have to search for them if you have to leave in a hurry.


Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and securely fastened up-to-date identification.

Attach the phone number and address of your temporary shelter, if you know it, or of a friend or relative outside the disaster area. You can buy temporary tags or put adhesive tape on the back of your pet’s ID tag, adding information with an indelible pen.


You may not be home when the evacuation order comes. Find out if a trusted neighbor would be willing to take your pets and meet you at a prearranged location. This person should be comfortable with your pets, know where your animals are likely to be, know where your pet disaster supplies kit is kept, and have a key to your home. If you use a pet-sitting service, they may be available to help, but discuss the possibility well in advance.


Planning and preparation will enable you to evacuate with your pets quickly and safely. But bear in mind that animals react differently under stress. Outside your home and in the car, keep dogs securely leashed. Transport cats in carriers. Don’t leave animals unattended anywhere they can run off. The most trustworthy pets may panic, hide, try to escape, or even bite or scratch. And, when you return home, give your pets time to settle back into their routines. Consult your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist.


Check out these Web sites for further information on disaster preparations for your pet:


Florida State Emergency Response Team: http://www.floridadisaster.org/;


Humane Society of the US: http://www.hsus.org/hsus_field/hsus_disaster_center/;

Information on Pet-friendly hotels: http://www.petswelcome.com/


FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). FEMA became part of the US Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.


SERT is a collaboration of Florida’s state agencies led by the state coordinating officer. SERT’s mission is to ensure that Florida is prepared to respond to emergencies, recover from them, and mitigate their impacts. Visit http://www.floridadisaster.org/ for the latest information on the hurricane relief efforts.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Alberto

Tropical Storm Alberto brought much needed rain to the sanctuary and
helped raise our lake level. The tigers loved hanging out in the wet and
cool weather. We have been preparing for the 2006 storm season by
trimming the weaker tree branches, and going over safety issues.
Lets keep our paws crossed that this season wont bring us or anyone any
serious damage.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tropical Storm Alberto swirling onshore now

The center of Tropical Storm Alberto (maximum sustained winds 50 mph) is swirling onshore in the Big Bend area of Florida now. The storm will continue to weaken as it moves northeastward over land this afternoon, nonetheless it will dump heavy rain on parts of the Southeast. Flood watches are posted from parts of eastern Georgia through eastern South Carolina into southeastern North Carolina. In addition to the threat of locally heavy downpours, isolated tornadoes are possible over northern Florida and southeastern Georgia into this afternoon.

 

Alberto's maximum wind gusts on land so far have been near 60 mph. Winds will continue to spin down over the next several hours as the center of the storm moves through extreme northern Florida into far southeastern Georgia. A few damaging wind gusts from thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes will be the worst effects.

 

Alberto is expected to become extratropical tomorrow as it churns northeastward through the eastern Carolinas. Locally heavy cloudbursts and gusty winds will continue, but widespread damage or flooding seems unlikely.

 

 

For the cats,

 

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue

an Educational Sanctuary home

to more than 100 big cats

12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625

813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition here:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/344896451?ltl=1140270431

 

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.

 

2006 Hurricane Predictions

Here comes hurricane season 2006. So what should we expect for the Atlantic basin? Or more likely your question may be, "what do we expect for the U.S.," or maybe, "will my town/city get hit by a hurricane this year?" Well those are popular questions these days, but unfortunately none are easy to answer!

 

Let me start with the first and easiest question, namely overall Atlantic basin activity. Some seasonal forecasters have been doing this for many years and the "father" of seasonal tropical cyclone forecasting is Dr. Bill Gray. The Weather Channel usually reports on his forecasts as he updates them into the peak of Atlantic hurricane season. His skill in forecasting above or below activity has been well beyond guessing or random chance. The latest forecast by Dr. Gray and his colleague Phil Klotzbach, which was issued in April (an update is coming next week), was for 17 named storms, including 9 hurricanes and 5 major (Category 3+) hurricanes.

 

NOAA's outlook, which came out a few days ago, is similar, for 13 to 16 storms, with 8 to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which 4 to 6 could become major hurricanes.

 

Much of this might be gleaned from inspection of averages for the past 11 Atlantic hurricane seasons starting in 1995 that began an active tropical cyclone era. As an example, averages for the past eleven years are: 15 named storms, 8 1/2 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. This compares to the long-term average of 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. Hence we have "averaged" about 150% of the long term average the past 11 years. With no strong El Nino in sight (strong El Ninos are typically associated with suppressed hurricane activity in the Atlantic) one might decide a good starting point for this season would therefore be 15, 9 and 4.

 

With a large portion of the tropical Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico warmer than average (though not quite as warm as a portion of it was at this time last year), that might spur a seasonal forecaster to tweak their numbers a little. But no model or person will forecast 28 storms (27 tropical, one subtropical) as we had last year; extremes tend to be outliers, and are routinely out of the range of statistical forecast techniques. As an example Dr. Gray's forecast at this time last year was for 15 named storms. Regardless, though, it appears we are in for another busy hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin.

 

But that doesn't necessarily equate to an active U.S. landfall season. For example let's compare two of the recent active years, namely 2004 and 2001. There were 15 storms in 2001, the same (counting one subtropical storm) in 2004, with 9 hurricanes in each year. However there were no U.S. hurricanes and no U.S. major hurricane landfalls in 2001, but there were 5 U.S. hurricane landfalls (plus a direct hit by Alex) and 3 U.S. major hurricane landfalls in 2004!

 

The bottom line, it is not how many we get in the Atlantic Basin that should be of interest to you, rather how many that make landfall, where they hit and how strong they are when they make landfall. One other note: in the first 9 of the last 11 active years the U.S. was more fortunate than average with hurricane and major hurricane strikes. That changed in 2004 and 2005.

 

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

 

I see you -- there you sit on the coast nervously waiting for hurricane season and "hoping" you won't get hit. But it only takes one, so do not fret over these seasonal forecasts. Instead do something about it.

 

If I were the great fortune teller of hurricanes and was never wrong, and I told you your city would be hit by a Category 3 hurricane on August 1, what would/could you do? Well, you could try to sell your home and move away, but buyers would have heard about the great fortune teller's forecast too, so good luck selling!

 

You would make sure you were safely out of town on August 1st. But that still leaves your home.

 

So if you were smart you would immediately beef up your home's ability to withstand high winds. That would include window shutters/coverings or hurricane windows; reinforcing the garage door; adding very strong roof/wall/floor tie-downs; trimming the trees near your roof; strengthening walls that might not hold up in that Category 3; and making sure roof shingles/tiles are all well intact. If you built on the beach you might even consider raising your home on hurricane-proof piles so it sits well above surge and wave threats. You would probably make copies all your irreplaceable items and put those copies in waterproof containers and send them to Aunt Martha's house in Iowa for safe keeping in case you lose the originals in that hurricane.

 

That is about all you could do: MITIGATE against the onslaught of the impending hurricane!

 

Unfortunately, I do not have a crystal ball, nor does anyone else! So what are you waiting for? If you live on or near a hurricane-prone coastline, you should know you have the potential to be struck by one in ANY year. Forget worrying about these seasonal forecasts, and get busy preparing for the worst. Fortunately most years will be false alarms, and you will be just fine in your particular location. But you will be ready when your fortune runs out!

 

 

For the cats,

 

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue

an Educational Sanctuary home

to more than 100 big cats

12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625

813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition here:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/344896451?ltl=1140270431

 

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.

 

Alberto

Tropical Storm Alberto is only effecting Big Cat Rescue with gusty winds and a potential for a storm surge that could effect the Founder and President's homes, but unlikely to reach as far north as the sanctuary grounds. Staff is preparing the sanctuary by bringing in anything that can become a missile and by reassuring the cats that we will be fine this year as we have been in years past.