Fight Cruelty

Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee—August 2011

dog looking outside of cage

The Deployment

Hurricane Irene was expected to be the worst storm to hit New York City in decades, so during the final days of August, ASPCA emergency responders worked around the clock to prepare our hometown for the worst.

With coastal city neighborhoods and large swaths of Long Island under mandatory evacuation orders, ASPCA responders spent the weekend removing animals from a low-lying shelter and visiting the dozens of evacuation centers across New York City, making sure those centers were equipped to care for pets accompanying their human evacuees.

Thankfully, New York City weathered Irene better than anticipated—other than a few flooded basements and downed trees, the city emerged not much worse for the wear.

After the Storm

Still, other parts of New York—and several other Eastern Seaboard states—weren’t as lucky, particularly after Tropical Storm Lee poured more water on the region a few days later. Requests for help soon came in from affected communities, and the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response (FIR) Team was there to answer the call.

The FIR Team spent the most time in Binghamton, New York, a city close to the Pennsylvania border and situated in a valley between two major rivers, both of which flooded and sent water pouring into business and residential areas. The devastation forced at least 20,000 people to evacuate their homes. A team of six ASPCA emergency responders hit the ground on September 9 and stayed for nine days.

Working with the Broome County Animal Response Team (BCART), the ASPCA helped set up a temporary emergency animal shelter that took in about 80 animals, many of whom belonged to families whose homes had been destroyed. A safe, clean and loving environment was provided by ASPCA and BCART responders, easing the burden on pet parents whose lives had been turned upside down.


Meanwhile, 150 miles east in the New York town of Castleton-on-Hudson, other ASPCA team members were manning a temporary emergency animal food and supply distribution center. Thanks to a generous donation of supplies from PetSmart Charities, Inc., the center was able to provide essential goods free of charge to animal welfare agencies struggling in the aftermath of the storms. From late-August through mid-September, the center fulfilled supply requests from New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Vermont, helping an estimated 3,000 animals.