The major damage left behind by Hurricane Irene last week has the East Coast in frenzy. Many residents are just now getting water and electricity back in their homes and for those who have lost loved ones, recovering will take more than a reinstallation of a utility.
Irene wasn’t polite to any animals in its path either. Rescue teams such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare and The Humane Society have had their hands tied since the storm hit the Atlantic Coast. Domestic pets were left homeless, large amounts of farm animals are in need of medical attention and even the rodents under New York City have been threatened. (Click here for photos of animals during Irene, compliments of LIFE.com)
Animals tend to get the short end of the stick in the aftermath of natural and human disasters. Forest fires across the country have burnt through acres of land, leaving animals homeless and left with limited resources. It was estimated that 8,000 animals were rescued after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The 2010 oil spill in the Gulf Coast also threatened the lives and mere existence of hundreds of species—both on land and in the water.
It’s unfortunate that the catastrophic oil spill did not receive the necessary attention for the right reasons. After mourning the loss of the 11 people who lost their lives in the rig explosion, politicians focused most of their time and energy on the financial aspects and not necessarily the natural damages. Thousands of fish were exposed and killed and hundreds of birds were caught drenched in oil. Volunteers worked quickly to clean the birds and rescue them before the oil affected them but for many, it was too late.
The point of all this oil-spill rambling is that a natural disaster isn’t just tragic to people, but to animals. The oil spill may not have been a cause for evacuation, or really a safety concern at all for most people, but it was still a disaster that took its toll on many lives. It’s important to realize that animals are vital for human survival and they should be valued for that.
Just remember, Dorothy didn’t leave Toto behind when the Twister hit Kansas—and neither should you.