Napa Humane in the “Situation Room”
by Wendi Piscia | September 3rd, 2020 | 11:08 am
Napa Humane plays an essential part of our county’s disaster preparedness and community animal response team – Napa CART. This highly organized group was set up three years ago to help our community maximize its resources during disaster, and ensure that capable, informed, and appropriately trained volunteers are available to help when Napa County’s animals need them most. Wendi, our Executive Director also attends every meeting of Napa’s big-picture disaster preparedness group (Community Organizations Active in Disaster) to stay informed about relief programs in other aspects of life, and to advocate for animal welfare issues year ‘round.
We’re practically in the situation room when it comes to animal welfare during disasters.
The LNU Lightning fires recently put Napa County’s emergency response teams to the test – and proved that our coordinated response works. As soon as the County “activated” the animal welfare team, Napa Humane was standing by ready to support the Napa County Animal Shelter in its small animal response (our designated role). Thanks to our involvement with the bigger-picture disaster groups, we knew all the key public and private organizations involved and had up-to-the-minute information about where the fire was, whom it was threatening, and what was being done to help those displaced. Our established relationships with other animal welfare groups in the community helped us share important information, position needed resources, and streamline the disaster response to avoid duplication of effort and unnecessary expense.
(Did you know that we are still trying to dispose of unsolicited in-kind donations from the 2017 fire? We learned a lot from that experience.)
Napa Humane worked to ensure that pet support supplies for evacuees were located at the same place as human services – so evacuees could get everything they needed in one stop. We adjusted sheltering plans on the fly when (because of COVID-19 concerns) the Red Cross began placing evacuees in hotel rooms, instead of centralized shelters. Almost every day, we circulated current needs of the emergency shelters to our animal welfare partners, so they could step up and help with whatever was needed, when it was needed.
In short, we made sure the right hand knew what the left hand was doing!
This highly organized, coordinated response worked. And it worked because we’d already spent the time and money training people to work together, follow protocols, and anticipate community needs. It definitely pays to plan ahead!
It’s been a busy few weeks, but our most important role lies ahead – during recovery. Napa Humane works with owners who can’t afford vet care, who need assistance with rebuilding fencing, or who need help with boarding costs.
Can you help us support wildfire victims, and continue our disaster preparedness work to protect animals in the future?