The numbers don’t tell the whole story of how HSUS disaster responders helped Florida residents after Hurricane Idalia pounded the region in late August.

Before the storm hit, we coordinated and funded the transport of 75 adoptable shelter animals (60 dogs and 15 cats) to safer lodgings out of the storm’s path. Following the storm, we operated a distribution center in Madison County, Florida, supplying pet food and farm animal feed for 872 local families and 9,083 animals, including dogs, cats, horses, pigs, cows, peacocks and even a few young squirrels whose nest was destroyed by Idalia.

The help was greatly appreciated.

“The wonderful staff members did more than offer food and supplies,” Madison County sheriff David Harper noted in a Facebook post, “they also provided moral support to our community and our staff throughout this disastrous time.”

While Idalia wasn’t as catastrophic as 2022’s Hurricane Ian, it still left the residents of rural Madison County with “a lot of need,” says Celia Jackson, an HSUS program manager for disaster response. Some people had been trapped in their homes for days by the time they reached the HSUS distribution center and “just seemed pretty overwhelmed by everything that they needed to do,” Jackson says. “A lot of people brought their dogs with them, so I really enjoyed getting to hand them the dog food, and then, with their permission, pet the dog and learn about their life a little bit.”

Jackson recalls one county animal control officer telling her, “You know, it’s really nice that you guys are here. I feel like sometimes people forget about the little guys.”

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