An Update from the Field: Harvey Disaster Response

August 31, 2017

The ASPCA is currently deployed in Texas and Louisiana to assist with recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Jessica R. of our Field Investigations and Response (FIR) team gave an account of her experience traveling to one of the hardest hit areas: Galveston, Texas.

Hurricane Harvey has now become one of the costliest natural disasters in our country’s history, impacting tens of thousands of residents, pets and other animals. Flooding and road closures made evacuation extremely perilous, and response efforts coming in from outside of the region equally so. When we received a request for assistance from Galveston County Animal Resource Center (GCARC), we knew that just getting there would be a huge challenge. 

a flooded road in Galveston, TX

A photo of a flooded road taken from inside Jessica’s vehicle.

The 150-mile drive from Jessica’s starting point of Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Galveston would normally take around three hours. But faced with the treacherous conditions along every possible route, it turned into two days of driving over 700 miles for Jessica and a fellow responder to finally get to their destination.

A marked-up map showing the round-about route our team was forced to take from Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Galveston, Texas.

This marked-up map shows the round-about route our team was forced to take from Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Galveston, Texas.

“We saw devastation everywhere we went,” reports Jessica. “Homes destroyed, cars abandoned, towns flooded out completely, and the rain continued to fall all day and night. We saw hundreds of pickups towing boats of all shapes and sizes, caravans of soldiers, and vans full of responders heading to affected areas. We saw fire stations, churches and community centers turned into makeshift shelters for evacuees. We encountered many dedicated and soaking wet police officers and tow truck drivers warning drivers of the dangers ahead or pulling them out of danger when they didn’t heed those warnings. It was a crazy journey (as evidenced by our zigzagging map) and we are so glad to finally be here.”

an abandoned truck in flood water

Jessica spots an abandoned pickup truck submerged in flood waters. 

Our team in Galveston is working with GCARC to transport adoptable animals from their shelter, which is currently at capacity, to facilities in Austin and Dallas. The transport of animals will create the space necessary to accept the incoming stream of displaced pets and lost animals in the aftermath of the storm. Jessica says, “I can’t wait to get these animals on their way to awesome lives, and to get the storm animals into a safe place to recover and eventually be reunited with their families. It is truly awesome what our team can do!”

The ASPCA recognizes that our work to reach animals in crisis—whether during a natural disaster, a dog fighting bust, or a case of severe neglect—would not be possible without donations from our supporters. 100% of your donation today will go to the ASPCA’s Field Investigation and Response Fund.