June 17th, 2008
Submitted by first-time EARS responder Dawn Frary of Iowa City
The flood waters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have finally begun to recede, but UAN’s Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) work has only just begun. As a new member of EARS and first-time disaster responder, I didn’t know what to expect coming into the situation. When I arrived on the afternoon of Monday, June 16, I was told that 400 to 500 animals were being housed in the temporary shelter set up on the Kirkwood Community College campus.
Most of that first day was spent assembling crates and cages for the animals we knew would be arriving either later that day or the following day. Tuesday saw some volunteers walking dogs and cleaning their cages, while others attended to the cats and other animals who have been received by the shelter. All the while, people were showing up to both drop off pets they had found and rescued, or to reclaim pets from whom they had been separated. Tuesday was the first day the temporary shelter was open to the public to reclaim their pets, and to witness people being reunited with their pets after several days — some of whom didn’t know if their pets had survived the disaster or not — is what our work here is all about.
Several truckloads of donations from various charities, including PetSmart Charities, had arrived before I did; among the supplies we received were cat and dog food, crates and beds. Members of the community also turned out to donate items, and their response was nearly overwhelming. People showed up with newspapers to be shredded and used as bedding, towels, blankets, pillows, cat and dog food, and pet shampoo. Churches and community organizations also donated meals, snacks and drinks for the volunteers — tables seemed to always be stocked with food for those of us working long, hard days. EARS volunteers were generously given accommodations in the Kirkwood gymnasium, complete with cots donated by the American Red Cross.
After a good night’s sleep, we’ll all start tomorrow bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to lend a hand to the animals who need us!
Photos courtesy Shari Neal and Stephen Malley.