Storm Stories - Veterinarians share their trials following back-to-back hurricanes - DVM
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Storm Stories - Veterinarians share their trials following back-to-back hurricanes


"Until I can rebuild, I'm planning on setting up a temporary practice where people can bring their pets for vaccines and basic care, Hunt says. "We'll see how that goes."

New Orleans

Restrictions against business owners and residents kept Dr. Lily Rai away from her New Orleans veterinary clinic, but vandals managed to ransack the few remaining valuables spared by Hurricane Katrina.

"I am trying to focus on positive not negative energies, but I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place," Rai says. "I can't get into my clinic, but hoodlums can, and there is something wrong with that."

Rai lost all of the equipment in her practice, and the building itself is predicted to be condemned.

"I had 10 feet of water in my practice, but I can't say how it looks now. I only know the clinic was ransacked because a neighboring business owner alerted me," Rai says. "I just need to get to my practice."

Rai says all of her client records are gone, and she has no way of accessing them, another problem to add to the mix.

For the past five years, Rai and her two associates have been performing low-cost spay and neuter procedures while educating clients on basic home care.

"I felt like we were making a difference in the community and now, I don't know if the area will be condemned or if I can rebuild," she adds.

"This is all very disheartening. There are no people to open a business for right now, but I know residents want to come back. I'm looking into an SBA loan. It's a waiting game at this point."

Bridge City, Texas

The winds were so severe, water blew through closed windows in Dr. Albert Pugh's living room.

That's where his family and pets gathered to ride out Hurricane Rita.

The storm wasn't as kind to his practice. It was demolished.

While he brought three boarded dogs and a cat to his home, the veterinarian sandbagged his barn to protect four horses. The structure held, but the roof was torn off.

"The sandbags did a good job of keeping the water out of the barn. I went outside during a low point in the storm and took the sandbags down to let the water drain out," he says. "The wind was tremendous and the gusts were even worse."

The small animal practitioner has been working at the Bridge City Animal Hospital for 29 years and says he does not plan to move elsewhere now.

"I have the distinct honor of being the only veterinarian in the city, and now I am the only veterinarian I know of to have lost an entire practice because of Rita.

"The first thing you see when you walk into the clinic is the ceiling and insulation hanging and lying on the floor," Pugh says. "The rain came in, saturating everything. The outside of the clinic looks like World War III, with trees down everywhere and debris scattered."

Pugh's insurance carrier gave him a check for $1,500, but he says he expects more after a full assessment is made.

Lined with mold, his practice and equipment lay in ruin. "No one can stay in the practice for more than a few minutes, Pugh says. "The air is so thick and the odor is unbearable."

In the mean time, he is considering a portable practice or covering the barn for temporary use.

"We've never been hit this hard," Pugh says. "In a two-week time, I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about generators."


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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