Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Spindletop Refuge-updated needs

Spindletop Refuge was the first small group I posted about as their needs began even as Hurricane Gustav (which hit the week before Hurricane Ike) was looming. Here is an update I just received and I am re-posting the original information on them (you can see pics of the damage from Ike at http://www.spindletoprefuge.com/Ike%20Hits%20Hard.pdf at the end:

"First, "thank you" to everyone for their support, concern and donations. Spindletop is still trying to recover from Ike, although some progress has been made. Below is an update on behalf of Leah and the gang at Spindletop:

The staff is working long days, seven days a week getting Spindletop back on its feet in conjunction with keeping the animals on Spindletop's program. The past few days brought really nice weather so they got a lot done! They've been working on cleaning up the property, securing fences and digging two feet of mud out from underneath a 5,000 square foot building. A Bobcat would make this job a lot easier but it comes with a $700/ month rental fee, so they are doing it all by hand and shovel. At this point they are approximately one-third done with the cleaning project.

The cost of labor is approximately $12,000; covering four weeks, seven days a week. FEMA does not cover expenses related to clean-up, so they are on their own. Currently, FEMA and Spindletop's insurance are going back and forth over who covers damage to the buildings. According to FEMA and Spindletop's insurance company, assistance regarding the repair of some of our buildings (e.g. kennels) is second priority since they are not homesteads. Leah said she fully understand this, of course, but since Spindletop is a rescue for animals this makes things difficult. For now, FEMA and the insurance company are going back and forth as to who is responsible for covering what and how much.

Electricity is on, although it will go out for a full day every now and again. They had some excitement last week when a transformer caught fire. Luckily, there was no damage. To add to the excitement, on Sunday, October 5th Leah got kicked by one of the rescue horses and broke her arm in two places and fractured her hip bone. They were cutting trees on the fence line in order to secure the back of the property so the rescue horses would be safe. Leah thought all the horses had been secured, but one friendly girl followed her and she didn't know it. Leah realized the horse was behind her as a large tree limb was falling. As she smacked the horse's hind to get her moving she turned, saw the limb and kicked at it. The horse didn't mean to kick Leah, but she got the worst of it. The tree limb was not harmed, but Leah was! Leah protected her abdomen with her arms when she saw the kick coming. As a result, she wound up with one clean break and one nasty break. Leah is now out of commission leaving Spindletop down one full working body. Leah said she doesn't have much of a tolerance for pain and that's she's in a lot of it. I'm guessing the staff is keeping their distance. I'm in New Jersey, so I'm safe!

Among the generous donations Spindletop has received in response to our first update (Thanks, everyone!), they received just enough tarps to cover the play yards (Thanks, Zandra). They are expecting some bad weather in the next day or two so they are holding off putting them up until the weather passes. They just got them, so they don't want to lose them already! Also, Kong Company donated 180 Kongs to Spindletop (Thanks, Lauren!) Spindletop is still in need of the following:

Indestructible balls
Nylabones (Perhaps the company will donate?)
3 Gallon water buckets
Cash donation to cover labor expenses
12x12 Tarps

Again, thank you for your support and generosity! Please know that I let Leah know every e-mail I receive in response to the updates. We'll get another update out soon, please bear with us as Leah is recovering and Spindletop is working overtime on getting back to full capacity.


Friend of Spindletop Refuge

On behalf of Leah Purcell
Director of Spindletop Refuge"

Original post on 9-22-08:
"Hello to all of our Friends and Supporters,

I wanted to send an update to everyone that has inquired, donated and helped through hurricanes Gustav and Ike. First and foremost, thank you so much for thinking of the dogs here at Spindletop. They have benefited in spirit as well as in comfort due to your prayers and generosity.

Now that the storms are over I can share a brief summary of the preparations we took for Gustav, which never came but the cost were realized in preparing for its arrival, and the heavy blow Ike delivered, leaving substantial damage to our property and buildings.

Following this update are a few pictures of the damage caused by Ike. The lama in one of the photos sustained some minor injuries but has been seen by a veterinarian who came to Spindletop to examine him. He is recovering and doing very well. Please note that the gate he is standing behind is a gate made to contain steer; it is extremely long yet damaged by the storm.

The Preparation
With Gustav, we moved both the rescued dogs and rescued horses to higher ground and breathed a sigh of relief when he didn't show up. Not even nine days later we were doing the same thing, except this time we had to relocate some of the animals to go to other sanctuaries for safety reasons. With Ike, we were up against the clock and had moved all the animals literally in the nick of time. The winds were already gusting around 40 mph when we got the last group of dogs secured and sheltered from harm’s way. The “fire drill” with Gustav left us tired and both emotionally and financially stressed. With Ike, we waited to make sure he was actually coming . Gustav and Ike have been very hard on the dogs.

As is becoming customary, John Richardson flew into the storm bringing Connie Anderson (both from New Jersey). John was monumental in helping us with the Rita evacuation, over 300 dogs, more than half of them being Katrina dogs in the care of Spindletop. John and Connie took time off from their own animal related jobs, their families and their animals. They couldn't come too soon either, as we had waited to confirm Ike was happening and on his way. At the time of their arrival, Spindletop was working with a skeleton crew due to the fact some of the employees have young children and needed to stay with their families during the storm. Connie was monumental in helping with the dogs in the house which, in effect, freed up one person to help with the remaining dogs.

We placed 43 dogs in my mother's house (we’ll pretend she was thrilled about that) and the rest were moved into the boarding/evaluation kennel in the front of the property, which is normally an indoor/outdoor kennel that holds 24 dogs. Given the situation with Ike, all dogs were crated and stacked in order to accommodate additional dogs. This proved to be a good move as Ike poured three feet of water into the rescue kennel, caused major damage to the overhead doors and caused severe roof damage by the time all was said and done.

The Aftermath
The rescue kennel will be a total loss; there was almost a foot of mud from the water. We lost all of the tarps that covered our temporary exercise pens, two regular exercise pens, all dog toys and water buckets.

We had three heavy duty tents that housed our supplies (crates, washer/dryer, tools, blankets, toys, etc.); Ike took the tents with most of the things in them. Several of our emergency purpose crates simply vanished.

We have lost a lot of our perimeter fencing due to downed trees and every one of our pastures for the rescue horses are damaged, some severely.

We are still working with a skeleton crew as most of our employees had damage to their own property and need to attend to their problems along with extended family who were hit hard by the storm.

We depended on generators as we anticipated the loss of electricity; we were told we would be without electricity for approximately one month but luckily electricity came on at night Sunday, September 22nd. We hope it stays on! Phone service is spotty at best and we just recently started receiving regular mail. Currently, only a few banks are open for business. We are now able to get gasoline locally now, but there is such a demand that the lines are extremely long. Spindletop was depending on the use of gasoline and propane, costing approximately $200 daily, hopefully with the electricity back on we can save some money here. Originally we had to travel to Brenham for provisions, but grocery and feed stores located closer to us are opening. This is important as it will help reduce our already high gas cost. The stores have non perishables that do not last long due to demand.

I’ve hired laborers to fix the perimeter fencing. Spindletop cannot be fully functional with the dogs until the fencing is repaired. Several trees need to be cut down before we can repair the fencing. They are beginning work Saturday…and will have to share one chainsaw!

As if walking the dogs and assessing the grounds isn’t difficult enough, the water brought a new concern; snakes. Yes, snakes. The most cost effective way to deter the snakes from parts of the property, most importantly the shelters for the people and animals, is placing cinnamon sticks around the perimeter of the structures you want to deter the snakes from.

Ike has left us with a lot of work to do. I, along with the staff and animals at Spindletop, would like to ask for your support as we try to recover from the damage Ike left behind. The animals, of course, are being kept top priority given the current conditions but we need to get back to normal operating conditions as soon as possible.

Below is a short list of items desperately needed:
Cash donations
Cinnamon sticks
12x12 tarps
Gift cards for Walmart or Sams
Zip ties
Toys for dogs*

*All toys were lost in the winds. The purchase of toys is an expense we cannot incur ahead of the others listed above, but toys would certainly keep the dogs occupied and happy.

[Editor's Notes: There were addresses to donate to them here that I deleted. I am not affiliated with this or any of these groups and it is poor practice for anyone to go through a secondary source like me to donate funds. All you have to do is to go to their website to get the physical address and paypal button]

As always, our priority is the welfare of the animals at Spindletop. Again, thank you for your well wishes, concern and support. Any assistance with the above items would be genuinely and immensely appreciated. Spindletop is a non-profit organization (501(c)(3): 26-1200402).

I will send updates as progress is made with procuring provisions and making repairs here at Spindletop."

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