With two months remaining of the 2009 hurricane season and as flood waters begin to recede in the Southeast, a cautionary tale.

In the last week as hundreds have looked to the American Red Cross for shelter officials estimate the number of people needing help could still rise dramatically.

More than 220 people took refuge Monday and Tuesday in Red Cross shelters in Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. Georgia has been hit the hardest, particularly around the city of Atlanta where as much as a foot of rain fell earlier this week. Red Cross is providing a safe place to stay, food to eat, and a shoulder to lean on for those affected by the flooding which has prompted evacuations, washed out bridges, caused landslides, and closed highways across the region.

Preliminary estimates from emergency management officials indicate that as many as 1,000 people could potentially need sheltering and collaterally that could leave hundreds of companion animals at risk
This message from Martina Hemming Executive Director of the West Georgia SPCA as their power was failing is a plea for supplies and volunteers to assist with the post fllod evacuation and care of animals stranded by the rising flood waters. Read their story: http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs004/1102350094144/archive/1102725043733.html

The Atlanta Examiner - Sept. 23 Cobb County Animal Shelter: http://www.examiner.com/x-23208-Atlanta-Dog-Rescue-Examiner~y2009m9d23-Atlanta-floods-costing-many-animals-lives

The Cobb County Shelter in Marietta, GA which last month was forced to give up 200 animals to an emergency caravan of rescuers from neighboring states is once again overwhelmed and in need of urgent foster and rescue to help with more than 50 flood victims.

In the face of such disaster The Red Cross offers the following steps people should take to be ready and stay safe:

  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream when water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.

For companion animals safety never chain the animal or confine them prior to evacuation. Flooding can quckly overwhelm them just as it would you. Prepare for and evacuate your pets with you. They stand a much better chance of survival with their family than left to fend for themselves.

Have an evacuation kit that includes supplies for your companion animals (list available here) and find out beforehand which shelters in your area accept pets in carriers.

Have ID and proof of  current vaccinations for your pet when you evacuate, most shelters will require both.

Finally if you must abandon a pet please provide a link to your destination and  contact information. Abandoned animals that manage to survive are often saved by 1st responders but later destroyed if their owners can not be located. Give them that all important life line, a ticket home. TD