Veterinarians, animals stranded in Vermont by Hurricane Irene flood waters


Montpelier, Vt. -- Flood waters from Hurricane Irene left several Vermont towns isolated from society and without communication.

Montpelier, Vt.

— Flood waters from Hurricane Irene last weekend left several Vermont towns without communication and virtually cut off from society, at least temporarily. As flood waters receded in the days after the hurricane, the extent of damages became more evident.

However, despite the high winds and severe flooding in areas, the animal impacts were minor, says a state animal-health official.

“At the state level, we have not had really any requests for emergency response,” says Dr. Katherine McNamara, Vermont’s assistant state veterinarian. “It all happened so quickly; the response was local.”

Irene's flood waters, McNamara explains, affected watershed areas in the southern and southeast areas of the state that historically experience flooding, she says. People took precautions and moved animals if they could, and the ones left behind had the sense to head to higher ground, McNamara adds.

“A lot of barns were swept away, but reports coming in say the animals were okay,” she says.

As far as the impact to veterinarians in the flood-affected areas, McNamara says there have been few calls. One veterinarian in Manchester couldn’t get to his practice because of the flooding, and expects to find water damage when he is finally able to reach it, she says.

Other veterinarians have been calling to see how they can help. McNamara adds the state did loan out an emergency response trailer. The state veterinarian’s office is also working with the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association to help veterinarians communicate with each other.

In late August, roads leading out of more than 10 towns were still impassable because of the flooding, McNamara tells

DVM Newsmagazine

. Once communication is restored to those areas, McNamara is expecting more requests for aid. Also, state officials are reaching out to dairy farms and trying to clear and reopen flooded roads.

“It was so quick, and it’s receding already. It’s an odd situation,” she says. “I think the bigger concern once we get through this initial response phase is the (impact to animal) feed. A lot of crops were lost.”

A wet spring meant that many crops were planted late, and this was another blow to existing agricultural crops, she explains.

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