May 4, 2011
Relief for Alabama Tornado Victims
Search, rescue, and ongoing support for animals, people
by Julie Hauserman
The Humane Society of the United States is on the ground in Alabama, Mississippi, and Missouri, helping search for animals lost or injured during the worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history.
HSUS staffers are assisting local animal control and humane societies by organizing volunteers, setting up staging areas to help reunite lost pets with their owners if possible, distribute pet food, and—after getting the all-clear from local officials—heading on foot into devastated areas to talk to neighbors and systematically search for loose animals.
"The Animal Rescue Team picked up 25 animals in Tuscaloosa yesterday," said Laura Bevan, southeast regional director for The HSUS, who is on the ground in Alabama.
The devastation is heartbreaking, Bevan said. One especially powerful tornado that roared through a densely populated part of Tuscaloosa was, incredibly, a mile wide.
HSUS state director Mindy Gilbert is helping coordinate efforts in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, and state directors from Indiana, Idaho, Tennessee, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Michigan are traveling to the area to provide help.
Gilbert also helped set up a Birmingham- and Tuscaloosa-area hotline (205-397-8534, answered 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily) to help lost or found pets get reunited with their people.
HSUS personnel are also in Caruthersville, Missouri, where flooding from the Mississippi river threatens the town. As concerns continue about the levees, the ASPCA—with The HSUS' help—is performing field rescues and caring for more than 270 animals displaced during the floods.