28 September, 2017
Ginny Hawksley from the London office of the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board said: "It's been quite emotional and encouraging to see the BVI love from so many people". The pets are now being cared for on a Virginia farm.
It's rare to find uplifting stories about hurricanes, but here's one: A Virginia woman named Sali Gear rescued pets stranded on the Virgin Islands after Irma wreaked havoc in the Caribbean earlier in the month. USVI public water systems have been significantly impacted by Hurricanes Maria and Irma and subsequent flooding, including by a loss of electrical power, and are not yet fully able to provide adequately treated water to meet the needs of those affected areas. The chartered flight alone cost $112,000 and all of the carriers cost $5,000.
"We did it because there was nobody else to do it, and the government didn't have a way to do it", Gear told Virginia TV station WAVY. Local rescue groups have been picking up the animals and transporting them to places like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and the greater Boston area.
On Tuesday, the 300 animals safely arrived in Norfolk, Virginia - some in cages marked with the note "I survived Hurricane Irma". Thankfully, volunteers who'd heard of the campaign on social media showed up to Gear's farm and helped her reintegrate the animals after their departure from the islands. 'People have moved Heaven and Earth to make this happen'.
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According to Gear, the animals she helped rescue have been faring well since leaving the storm-battered islands.
She had made multiple visits to the US Virgin Islands since Irma, and was appalled at the devastation - and at the now-homeless animals left to fend for themselves.
The Florida Health Department issued a message on Twitter before the storm hit, pleading with citizens to stick with their pets. "They definitely need us". "My family lost our business and we had to relocate because of it, so hurricanes have been a big part of my life and I understand how they can really devastate somebody and change their lives". They're relocating 100 animals from Miami to a specially devised shelter in SC.