Disaster Team Responds to Hurricane Florence


Humane Society of Missouri deploys Disaster Response Team to rescue animals in wake of Hurricane Florence

The Humane Society of Missouri Animal Cruelty Task Force and Disaster Response Team is one of the largest animal rescue/disaster response teams in the United States.

Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018

HSMO’s Disaster Response Team has safely returned from North Carolina! But not without performing one of the most dramatic and miraculous rescues we’ve ever encountered

The swift water rescue team had made three attempts to locate a house in which a dog had ridden out Hurricane Florence. On each attempt, the flood waters were too high. The team couldn’t locate the house.

On the third attempt, the water had receded enough to locate the house, and miraculously, the team heard barking coming from inside! They were able to successfully rescue the tiny Maltese – who had been floating on a couch inside the house since the storm and flooding hit. Watch Soshe’s incredible rescue »

Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018

Today, our two swift water rescue teams worked all day on the water. Our emergency shelter team staged near the boat launch, ready to receive animals rescued from flooded areas.

The water teams checked on the two horses currently sheltering in place on a flooded porch. Although the pair is standing in several feet of water, team members checked their hooves and provided buckets of fresh water and additional hay. Fortunately, our team has been able to make contact with the owner of the horses, who has requested that the horses stay on the porch for the time being. The owner is very thankful that our team is there to monitor the horses and ensure they have food and water.

After checking on the horses, the teams responded to several other welfare checks and rescue requests. Rescue efforts included the safe transport of two cats, two dogs and a rooster. All five were transported by HSMO’s emergency shelter team to Pender County Humane Society where they will receive care and await their owners arrival. The team also performed welfare checks on several additional equines, all of which were thankfully on dry land and receiving adequate care.

Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018

Today HSMO’s team transported a group of dogs from a temporary shelter in a school to a larger facility that is housing both people and pets. That facility also has a helicopter landing pad and our team assisted U.S. Coast Guard and National Guard helicopter crews to unload families, including young children, and pets including dogs, rabbits and goats. Kudos from our team to the U.S. Coast Guard for making a dedicated trip to rescue two dogs stranded on a completely submerged home. The dogs are now in the care of HSMO. Because the owner’s contact info was on the dogs’ collars, our team was able to let the owners know their dogs are safe and will be cared for until they can be reunited, which may be several days.

From stranded on a rooftop, to spoiled by our Disaster Response Team and Emergency Shelter Team – these two get lots of TLC while they wait to be reunited with their owner.

During disasters like Hurricane Florence, our team members are constantly tested with new and unique challenges.

When a horse owner was airlifted from their home to safety, there was no choice but to leave the horses behind. Our rescue partners managed to swim the horses to a nearby porch. They were out of deep water, but the pair was stressed, exhausted and scared. Current assessments calculate that the nearest dry land is ¾ of a mile away – too far for the weary horses to trek and swim through the dangerous flood waters. The HSMO team brought a supply of hay so the horses could stay on the porch overnight while a plan is devised. It’s not ideal, but for the time being it is the best spot for the horses who have already weathered the storm and endured days of flooding.

Tomorrow, we will work with our partner organizations to bring these horses to dry land where they can rest in safety. And we will work to keep them safe until they can be reunited with their owner.

Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018

HSMO’s Disaster Team Leader Greg Martin reports that the going is very rough today. They have been assigned to rural areas where the few roadways are totally submerged and existing waterways are very much out of their banks making specific locations very difficult to find.

As waters continue to rise it’s often difficult to know what’s under the boats so team members proceed cautiously in pursuit of animals that need them. Today the team was able to rescue 5 chickens, 4 kittens and a young male dog.

Monday, Sept. 17, 2018

After a long drive and meeting up with rescue partners from Code 3 Associates and other animal rescue partners, HSMO’s Disaster Response Team convoy arrived in Pender County, NC mid-afternoon today. Almost immediately, water rescue team members were deployed to flooded areas in need of animal rescue. Other team members will unload and set up to receive and care for rescued animals in the parking lot of an area elementary school.

Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018

The 9-member Humane Society of Missouri Disaster Response Team left from HSMO Headquarters this morning for hurricane ravaged areas of North Carolina. Activated with national animal rescue partner Code 3 Associates, Inc., the team is preparedHSMO Disaster Team Leaves for Hurricane Florence disaster areas to perform swift water and other animal rescue services in the wake of Hurricane Florence.  The team has been assigned to some of the most heavily impacted counties of coastal and southern North Carolina.

The Disaster Response Team has the following equipment and supplies to support their rescue efforts:

  • 2 animal transport trailers with capacity for 150 animals

  • 1 animal transport vehicle with capacity for 30 animals

  • 2 boats

  • 1 horse trailer

  • 6 trucks

  • A recreational vehicle for housing the team

  • Generators and water rescue gear

  • Supplies necessary for the team to be self-sustaining

Original Story

The Humane Society of Missouri Disaster Response Team is in North Carolina with national rescue partner Code 3 Associates, Inc. to perform water and land-based animal rescue operations in the mid-Atlantic coast areas affected by Hurricane Florence.

The Disaster Response Team, led by HSMO’s Animal Cruelty Task Force Director Greg Martin, has training in swift water and land-based rescue operations in preparation for whatever rescue situation they may encounter following this historic storm. If needed, the team also can handle animal transport and sheltering duties.

“Having performed animal rescue, transport and sheltering following Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Rita, Irma, Harvey and Matthew, the Humane Society of Missouri’s Disaster Response Team is well prepared to respond in what may be another tragic disaster,” said Kathy Warnick, HSMO’s president. “We are proud of the capabilities of our professional team and grateful to our donors who understand the importance of this life-saving work.”