Rescues for Pets, Livestock and Wildlife

Animal Rescues during the #SCFlood
By Patty McQuillan
COLUMBIA, S.C. (October 13, 2015, 2:45 p.m.) – As flood waters surrounded a three-square mile area in Georgetown County, Dick Green traded his four-wheel drive for a motor boat to rescue and feed stranded animals.

Green, the senior director for rescues at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, traveled from Santa Rosa, California, to help South Carolina rescue and protect pets, horses and livestock.  He was one of 25 people working under the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition dedicated to animal rescue following South Carolina’s historic Oct. 4 flooding.

After working in other sections of the state, Green arrived at the height of Georgetown County’s flooding.  He entered near the Big Dam Swamp community that had become isolated by flooded roads.

“The horses were looking healthy,” Green said as his teams shuttled in horse feed.  He fed several dogs whose owner was hospitalized and couldn’t get back to their home.  He crawled through a second story window to leave enough food for several cats whose owner had been displaced.

In addition to NARSC, county animal shelters, Department of Natural Resources wildlife officers, the Large Animal Rescue Team, South Carolina Awareness and Rescue for Equines (SCARE), and other rescue organizations have been pulling traumatized animals from floodwaters, assessing damaged facilities and distributing food.

SCFloodRescue crews from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources made  about 40 animal rescues since the flooding began Oct. 4.

In Ridgeville, S.C. DNR Captain Lee Ellis reported the evacuation of two pigs, four goats, 12 chickens, eight cats and three dogs from one family, and DNR Captain Karen Swink said officers have also rescued rabbits, squirrels and even a rattlesnake.

“Our guys rescue every living creature,” Swink said. “If you find animals or birds that are sick, injured or disoriented be careful and contact a trained wildlife rehabilitator.”

When the Francis Willis SPCA animal shelter in Summerville flooded, dozens of people showed up for emergency adoptions.  Animals from other flooded shelters were taken to out-of-state shelters from Florida to Virginia.

“Local animal shelters have been doing a yeoman’s job in taking in rescued animals even though most shelters are always at or near capacity,” said Charlotte Krugler, DVM.  Krugler is heading up the state’s efforts to coordinate resources, identify needs and send resources to affected areas.

The threat of flooding had Carolina Wildlife Center in Columbia scrambling to find alternative locations for the 400 squirrels, rabbits, raccoons and opossums in their care as well as a red-tailed hawk and two owls used for educational purposes. 

“Volunteers gave an amazing amount of support in moving the animals and afterwards, in cleaning up the facility,” said Julie McKenzie, director of rehabilitation for the Center where all of the animals have returned.

Some pet owners were resistant to evacuating without their pets.  Mary Louise Resch was at home Sunday afternoon watching Gov. Halley’s news conference on television when she heard a pounding on the door.  A Richmond County sheriff’s deputy said, “We need you to evacuate.  It’s not mandatory, but your home is projected to be underwater.”

#SCFlood Animal RescuesResch asked the deputy to help her capture her two Siamese cats, because she wasn’t leaving without them. The deputy put on gloves, and together they were able to get the panicked cats into crates.  Resch had five minutes to gather belongings and leave.  Fortunately, the hotel she evacuated to accepted pets, and she was able to report to her job at the State Emergency Operations Center representing Harvest Hope Food Bank and the South Carolina Food Bank Association for the next two weeks. 

SCARE, set up a covered evacuation site for horses in West Columbia and made trailers available for people who needed help transporting their horses. 
Columbia veterinarian Dr. Michael Privett, head of the Large Animal Rescue Team, had a near-death experience when the flooding began. He was called at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, and informed that 10 horses were in a barn that was flooding rapidly in northern Richland County. Privett, his wife, and three other members of LART, obtained a boat and headed towards the barn, a place Privett had visited before, but he could not quickly find it because landmarks had disappeared under water.

The rescuers heard two dogs barking and headed the boat in their direction and found them standing on the only high spot around, an area about 15 feet by 40 feet and about 300 yards from the barn. 

Privett and his team found the distressed horses with water up to their heads. They led three by boat – the horses swimming by the sides while the rescue team cupped their heads to keep them away from the boat motor. The going wasn’t easy. The fences were under water and when the horses’ legs hit the fence, they thrashed. Privett encouraged them over, and when they finally made it to the high spot, they left the horses with the dogs and returned to lead the next group. 
A frantic mare refused to be led. Privett bridled her and tried over and over again to calm her.

“She would have none of it,” Privett said.  “I learned a lesson, don’t fight a horse in water in a boat.”
Privett had gotten out of the boat to subdue the mare, a mistake he regrets.  In his rain boots and rain slicker he found he couldn’t stay above the water.  He surfaced a couple of times, saw the boat’s lights about 50 feet away and knew the boat couldn’t get to him in time.
 #SCFlood Animal Rescues
“I was whipped,” Privett said.  “I gave up.” It was an experience he said he will never forget.
Just then his wife and a friend reached down and dragged him to the surface.  The remaining equine rescue attempts were called off. 
Returning to the barn the next morning, Privett found the horses in belly-deep water.  The water had receded and the horses had survived the night’s flooding.  However, two sheep drowned and several cows are still missing. 

“We’ve been trained on how to right over-turned horse trailers and how to properly drag a horse, but we’ve never had training on rescuing 10 horses in 10 feet of water,” Privett said. “This is a whole new approach on what water can add to a rescue mission.”
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SCEMD Conducts Evacuation Needs Survey

COLUMBIA, S.C. (August 20, 2015, 9:30 a.m.) - The South Carolina Emergency Management Division will be conducting a telephone survey to better understand the needs of coastal residents who would need assistance during a large-scale emergency evacuation. SCEMD, along with the emergency managers in Horry, Georgetown, Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Colleton, Beaufort, Hampton and Jasper counties, has partnered with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to conduct this survey to determine:
  • The number of functional needs citizens needing transportation during hurricane evacuations, such as low income, homebound, immobile, disabled, physically or mentally impaired, power-dependent, or any other vulnerable individuals who require special assistance during emergency evacuations.
  • The locations of where these citizens live in relation to established evacuation routes.
  • The type of transportation assistance required for emergency evacuation, such as ambulances, vehicles that accommodate wheelchairs, etc.
As part of this assessment, the USACE has contracted with a national professional services firm, NORS Surveys, Inc., to conduct phone interviews of citizens living in areas of the state that are most prone to the landfall of a major hurricane. This survey will assist the state’s disaster preparedness planners by identifying areas where additional effort is necessary to successfully and safely evacuate people in need of assistance.
The evacuation needs interviews will begin next Monday, August 24, via telephone.  If you are contacted, please participate in this survey.
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SCEMD Monitors Subtropical Storm Ana

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Friday, May 8, 2015, 11:15 a.m.) – The first named storm of 2015 has formed and will affect South Carolina this weekend.  The National Hurricane Center has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for portions of the South Carolina coast. Forecasters expect Subtropical Storm Ana to produce heavy rain, gusty wind and rough surf. The S.C. Emergency Management Division, county emergency managers and state agencies are monitoring the latest forecasts and planning as necessary. 
“We were fortunate to be able to discuss the storm with the Director of the National Hurricane Center in person during his Hurricane Hunter stop at Myrtle Beach on Wednesday,” SCEMD Director Kim Stenson said, “We’ve also met with the county emergency managers and the state agencies who are a part of our Hurricane Task Force. We’re prepared to respond to any requests for state assistance.”
SCEMD will increase its state of operational readiness to Condition 4 at noon today. OpCon4 is the second lowest of five operational conditions. Personnel representing key state response agencies were notified to review plans and procedures and are on call if needed.
SCEMD urges everyone to review emergency plans and use caution as conditions warrant:
  • Monitor local media and NOAA Weather Radio for the most current weather conditions.
  • Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards and local emergency officials. 
  • Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags.
  • Be aware of potential flash flooding. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move to higher ground. Do not wait to be told to move. 
  • If time allows, prepare your home for a flood by moving essential items to an upper floor, bring in outdoor furniture, disconnect electrical appliances and be prepared to turn off the gas, electricity and water.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.

The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins June 1 and lasts until November 30.  

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South Carolina Prepares for Another Round of Winter Weather

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 1:30 p.m.) - Governor Nikki Haley has declared a State of Emergency to mobilize additional state resources should they been needed in response to the impending hazardous weather.  The Governor’s State of Emergency Executive Order activates the Emergency Operations Plan, directing all state agencies to coordinate emergency resources should local public safety efforts request assistance.  
The S.C. Emergency Management Division, state and local public safety agencies are preparing for another winter storm that should begin to affect the state this evening.  Forecasters with the National Weather Service predict the possibility of three to seven inches of snow in the Upstate and Northern Midlands areas, from McCormick to Marlboro Counties.  
SCEMD is working closely with the S.C. Department of Public Safety, the state Dept. of Transportation, the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff, the S.C. National Guard and all NWS offices that serve South Carolina.  SCEMD has coordinated with all county emergency managers to make sure there are no unmet needs in terms of winter storm response resources.  
The State Emergency Operations Center will be activated with select representatives from several of the State Emergency Response Team agencies beginning tonight and into tomorrow morning.  
SCEMD encourages citizens to continue winter safety precautions including:
  • Check on anyone who may need extra help during winter weather.
  • Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies only. 
  • Remember to keep a full charge on your cell phone and mobile devices so that they can be used during an emergency.
  • Motorists should be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roadways, which tend to freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges. 
  • Power outages are expected to be minimal but possible with this storm.  If you lose power, know how to report the outage to your utility company and have alternate, safe means of staying warm.  
  • Monitor local media for information about warming shelters that have been opened by county emergency managers.  
  • Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.  
  • Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators OUTSIDE and away from any open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not burn charcoal indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from charcoal fumes indoors.  
  • Never operate a portable generator indoors.  
  • Keep fresh batteries on hand to use with flashlights and NOAA tone-alert weather radios.  
  • Provide some options for outdoor pets and domestic animals to stay warm.  
  • Follow @SCEMD social feeds at and  
  • The official South Carolina Severe Winter Weather Guide is available at any Walgreen’s store in the state and for download here on our website.
  • Any closings and/or delayed opening of state government offices will be posted at and broadcast on SCETV television and radio.
  • Hazardous weather driving tips from the S.C. Highway Patrol.
  • Get real-time road conditions from SCDOT’s Severe Winter page.

Governor Nikki Haley's Executive Order

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