Irene update: Drama in the Adirondacks, parts of VT still under water

UPDATE: Rescue workers with the Humane Society of the United States have joined local Red Cross volunteers mobilizing in Vermont to set up temporary shelters for displaced pets in Brattleboro. They also are providing pet food and supplies to evacuated families.  In North Carolina, a large-capacity shelter is in operation to serve coastal Pamlico County at the Craven County Fair Grounds. The HSUS, along with local groups, is providing shelter for rescued animals as well as pets from families who have evacuated without a place to keep their animals. The shelter is also available for pets of first-responders.

For  up-to-the-minute updates from HSUS see and field reports and video at

We were cleaning up sticks and leaves - the remnants of hurricane Irene - in the yard this morning and thinking of my friends in Richmond, Vermont, which got swamped by floodwaters on Sunday.

The crossroads of this picturesque, historic town was engulfed by water, forcing the evacuation of numerous residents and farm animals - some were helped to safety by kayakers. See a dramatic slide show - including collapsed bridges and roads and the water rescue of several sheep - posted on the Burlington Free Press website.

In the Vermont flooding - the worst in almost a century - at least four people have died, dozens of historic towns are facing catastrophic damages and huge clean ups and five of the state's iconic covered bridged have been lost or severely damaged.

In the Adirondack region of New York, rivers topped their banks yesterday sending water rushing through dozens of historic towns and flooding farms. NPR's Morning Edition today had an account of the rescue of horses standing chest high in water in their stable. 

There have only been sporadic reports of animal news on the Internet from the region. Central Vermont Humane Society Facebook page has taken in several animals and is appealing for adopters in anticipation of more four-legged evacuees.

Some good news for storm survivors in New Jersey: the Air National Guard showed up to help move 230 animal evacuees from their temporary home at an old racetrack back to the Atlantic County Animal Shelter in Pleasantville.

Now the 140 cats and 90 dogs (18 of whom were found lost in the storm) need to find their way to a permanent home.

“After what they have been through, we’re looking to find all of these animals loving homes,” shelter director Kathy Kelsey told the Star-Ledger.

The other day I noted that it seemed states in the path of hurricane Irene had learned the lesson of Katrina  and that emergency evacuation plans were at long last now including pets. 

I erred in reporting the planning was by choice. It is now the law. The horrific loss of life in Katrina - those many men and women who chose to stand by their pets in the storm over the safety of a shelter - led to to the passage of the federal legislation mandating that pets be provided shelter too.

(Photo/Noah Murray/Star-Ledger)