How Best Friends is working to help those affected by Hurricane Florence

By Marc Peralta

We are waiting with bated breath to see what another major storm hitting our country’s shores will mean for the animals in the affected area.

As Hurricane Florence hits the Carolinas, it has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm. Although this might offer a false sense of security to some, it’s not the wind speed that’s the issue when a storm of this magnitude hits. It’s all about the storm surge. And though we won’t know the full effects for a bit, we’ve been hard at work the past week getting ready for whatever was to come.

Starting last Friday (September 7) and throughout the weekend, the Best Friends team started engaging directly with our partners in the Carolinas to assess the situation on the ground, understand what partners were doing to prepare for possible evacuations and provide helpful information to communities so they could prepare for anything that would affect them and their beloved pets.

Starting on Monday morning, South Carolina began mandatory evacuations, resulting in an estimated 1.7 million evacuating from their homes.

Throughout Monday and Tuesday, Best Friends began matching local partners in the Carolinas with other groups to help evacuate shelter animals to other states or to move them to more solid structures that would be safe from the storm.

Since Monday morning, we’ve been busy to say the least. I’m only one person on this great team, but together we’ve made approximately 147 phone calls to shelter partners, city officials, hotels and government response officials. (I just counted them on my phone. Whew!)

We are keeping in contact with other large national groups to share information and to maximize our ability to help. For example, we have been working closely with our incredible partners at the Petco Foundation who, on top of their separate response actions, supplied 200 much-needed crates to one partner in Pitt County, North Carolina. We also worked with the Petco Foundation to ship food and supplies to Charlotte, so that groups like PetRed have them on hand for communities all over North Carolina. This also includes a truckload of food from our partners at Nature’s Variety.

Just this morning, the Best Friends team facilitated a last-minute transport of 40 pets from Dillion, South Carolina, to our partners in Asheville, North Carolina (Brother Wolf), and to our no-kill municipal partners at Gwinnett Animal Services in Atlanta. We remain nimble and ready to help as issues arise.

Best Friends is always ready to do whatever is necessary to help, but at this time, we don’t have plans to deploy staff. That could change 30 minutes after this blog is published, but this is where we are right now.

That said, we will continue to engage our more than 2,300 network partners to identify those able to take in animals or provide transport/resources to the Carolinas. We will also continue to stay in contact with other large, national nonprofits, to be as impactful as possible and maintain good communication. We will also continue to flow supplies to affected areas and shelters in the region.

Check out our Facebook page for the most up-to-date information on our work during the storm.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society