GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Animal crates are packed up in a van, ready to pick up 47 animals from shelters in areas hit by Hurricane Ida. Michele Schaut, of Michele's Rescue in Grand Rapids, is driving down south Monday to pick them up.
"People are taken care of first, and animals second," said Schaut. "When you have a shelter in the middle of a storm that annihilates it, 10 to 12 feet of water, there’s nowhere for these animals to go but on top of roofs."
The animals will be brought back up to West Michigan, where various shelters and foster families will take them in. However, this a great need for foster families to look after them, as well as the typical need here in Michigan. Donations of animal supplies are also needed.
"Water, food, looking for smaller dog beds," said Schaut. "Dog treats, toys, bowls, cleaning supplies, bleach. Things like that."
To apply to foster an animal, fill out an application on Michele's Rescue's website.
Meanwhile, many volunteers are already in the thick of clean-up down south. The American Red Cross has people on the ground. About 34 volunteers from Michigan were deployed Monday afternoon, but the executive director of the West Michigan chapter, Breeze Ettle, says that changes hourly.
"We’ve been watching the trajectory of the hurricane for some time now," said Ettle. "We put people in place before the hurricane, and now that we know what is really going on and assessing the situation, we have people heading there now."
Monday, volunteers were training for situations like hurricane relief. The volunteers rotate on a two to three week basis, and typically stay in a volunteer shelter.
"Our volunteers are highly trained, they know what they’re getting into," said Ettle. "For first-time volunteers, it's a real experience. But after that, they’re hooked. They see the impact they make for people."
Right now, the American Red Cross is primarily looking for monetary donations. That way, they can put the funds to use in the most efficient way. To donate, visit redcross.org.
The Red Cross is putting a major emphasis on shelter and feeding with their relief efforts. Ettle said they have cots, blankets and thousands of meals in place. Plus, they have blood supplies down there to make sure there is enough blood available.
"This is the biggest hurricane to hit Louisiana since about 1850," said Ettle. "So, this is a huge effort, category 4 hurricane, which means it takes lots of supplies, volunteers and funding to make it all happen."
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