National Report - When Hurricane Ike hit Texas last fall, Texas Veterinary Medical Association Executive Director Elbert Hutchins likened the storm's impact to a bomb site. FEMA dropped $1.4 billion to clean it up.
National Report — When Hurricane Ike hit Texas last fall, Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) Executive Director Elbert Hutchins likened the storm's impact to a bomb site.
Assessing Ike: Authorities now have totals for the amount of damage caused in Texas last fall by Hurricane Ike.
Five months later, the $1.4 billion price tag to clean up the damage is large, but could have been worse.
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), the charitable arm of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), put out a call immediately after the storm, seeking donations to help clinics that were in Ike's path rebuild.
More than $37,000 was sent to veterinarians to help cover Ike's damage, says AVMF Assistant Director Cindy Frosheiser. Additionally, $20,000 was sent to the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) for disaster preparedness, plus another $7,500 to pay for emergency generators that the TVMF could lend to veterinarians without power.
In total, the AVMF distributed $479,970 for disaster preparedness at the national level in 2008, compared to $350,000 in 2007. More than $86,000 was spent in 2008 on disaster reimbursement and relief, Frosheiser says, meaning that Texas veterinarians received almost half of the total 2008 distribution to clean up in the aftermath of Ike.
On a wider level, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided about $1.4 billion in assistance statewide as of Jan. 9, and the U.S. Small Business Administration approved nearly $493 million in low-interest disaster loans.
A FEMA report months after Ike — one of four large storms to hit Texas in a 60-day period — called the hurricane the "most costly and destructive storm ever to hit Texas."
Ike, which struck a huge corridor of Texas starting rom the Gulf of Mexico Sept. 13, displaced many veterinarians and animals.
Calls to veterinary clinics were unanswered because so many were without phone service and power.
The Texas Animal Health Commission, which regulates the state's livestock and poultry, reported that shelters throughout the state took in nearly 2,000 animals, including pets and livestock.
FEMA reports that about 20,000 head of cattle were affected by Ike, and as many as 4,000 to 5,000 adult cows and an unknown number of calves died.
Costs to the agricultural community in Texas are estimated in the millions, including more than $13 million in cattle losses, $8 million in losses to the fishing and seafood industry and about $700,000 in poultry losses.
Also, Texas legislators passed a law temporarily making it easier for emergency veterinary personnel to assist local authorities in disasters.