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North Dakota Deployment

Valley City North Dakota - Containment Deployment

Shelter Closing

April 26, 2009

Story by Mari Donovan

Noah's Wish, with assistance from the Sheyenne Valley Friends of the Animals (SVFA) and local veterinarian Dr. Jen Fischer, closed the animal disaster shelter in Valley City, North Dakota Saturday, April 26th. All but two animals were returned to their owners. Our "found" bunny, nicknamed Tater-Tot by shelter volunteers, went to his new prospective home. Lady Bug, a young German Shepherd mix was surrendered by her owner due to their relocation. She is currently housed at the Valley City Vet Clinic and the SVFA will ensure that she is placed in a "forever home".

Each of the animals housed had unique characteristics, capturing the hearts of volunteers. The dog section had an array of personalities - George, the Bichon, who made sure that we understood who was "boss" prior to allowing us to walk him, the virtually "separated at birth" (well, probably separated at 8 weeks) Jack Russell/Scottie mix dogs, 6 months old, one tan and one brindle, who arrived at the shelter hours apart. Of course we had to place them next-door to each other. There was confident Bentley, always at a perfect heel as he was walked around the rodeo arena , Lily the bulldog who wouldn't do stairs, so she had to be carried up and down, and Doc, the German Short Hair Pointer, who was overjoyed to discover the pigeons inside the Winter Show Arena. And cats - Spydee, who twirled, leapt and piroutted in his space, much to the consternation of his older housemate, Mr. T., who was quite content to be housed in his own adjacent space, Midnight, who hovered in his paper bag "cave", Bobbles, the 3 legged cat and the ever lady-like Callie. The bunnies luxuriated in their timothy hay and between cuddle sessions, played with toys provided by community members.

Through the eleven days of the Noah's Wish operation the volunteers of the city and neighboring communities joined Noah's Wish trained volunteers to provide outstanding care for the animals. Clean crates (sanitized twice daily) were provided for each animal. Our furry guests (no feathered friends this time) were fed, watered, groomed, comforted, exercised and played with from dawn to dusk. Recognizing that displaced families need some private space, volunteers created a separate room to allow a soothing place for visiting with their pets. Scrupulous attention was paid to any perceived medical need of an animal, which was followed up with veterinary care.

There are too many to thank and acknowledge (for fear of leaving anyone out). We leave with the utmost respect for the resourceful and resilient people of Valley City who face weeks, if not months, of recovery from this "dry flood" and the collapse of the main sewer system.

Volunteers Lisa, Konnie and David with Assistant Coordinator Mari Donovan

Monday April 20 Update

Story by Mari Donovan
The menagerie at the Noah's Wish Shelter in Valley City, North Dakota is still open, serving the needs of the animals and their families. We have smaller dogs and bigger dogs, cats, two bunnies and a ferret. Our space is well layed out, with enclosed roooms for each (well, the bunnies and the ferret share a room). The completely enclosed rodeo arena serves as our walking area, and we even have "family room" where families, who visit, can cuddle and play with their pets.

Noah's Wish Region 2 volunteers David Thompson, Konnie Olson and Lisa Prince (all from the Denver area) are great team members. Each brings his/her own experience and expertise, enabling us to provide optimum care for these displaced animals.

We are extremely fortunate to work with the Kay Kringlie of Sheyenne Valley Friends of the Animals. She schedules local volunteers to assist us with the morning and evening feedings and walks. Dr. Jen Fischer of Valley City Veterinary comes in each morning and evening to check on the animals and last night, Becky Johnson of Prairie Paws in Jamestown has been a tremendous resource. Not only has she come to volunteer time with us (while managing the temporary shelter in her own city), she has shared supplies and last night, brought us a hot meal AND gift cards for three nights at a motel in Jamestown! During this time of evacuation caution and displacement, the people of this region are incredibly thoughtful and supportive.

Valley City is still in a holding pattern, carefully watching the dykes and the very s-l-o-w-l-y receding waters of the Sheyenne River. Mandatory closures of non-essential businesses remain in place - only hospitals/clinics, grocery stores and hardware stores remain open due to the stress on the sewer system, as well as the need to keep traffic at a minimum.

The Valley City Veterinary Hospital remains closed; they provide the housing aspect of the city's Animal Control. The Noah's Wish shelter numbers are dwindling, with this morning's count 18 dogs, 13 cats, 2 bunnies and 1 ferret. There is anticipation that these numbers could grow if residents who have been staying in their homes decide to evacuate. The water system is safe for use and consumption, however NOTHING can go down the drains, due to the sewer system. Each block has a port-a-potty in place, and many creative stories have been heard about how people are eliminating water used for bathing and cleaning- running Shop Vacs to be emptied on the lawn outside, sump pumps and other ingenious methods.

Animal Shelter is located upstairs

Volunteer Konnie Olson, Region 2

David Thompson, Noah's Wish volunteer Region 2 shown in blue sweatshirt

Mari Donovan, Region 1 Assistant Coordinator and Sheyenne Friends of Animals, Valley City, North Dakota

Saturday evening - April 18, 2009

Story by Konnie Olson
This has been my first Noah's Wish deployment, and it's extra special because North Dakota is my home state. I was born and raised in Kenmare, graduated from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, and worked in Fargo for several years before moving to Colorado. My parents, grandmother, and all three siblings and their families still live in North Dakota, most in Bismarck/Mandan.

As anyone who's had the pleasure of working with Mari can tell you, it's been fun learning the ropes from her. This lady knows what she's doing! Although 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. makes for a long day, subsisting on just snack food and soda, it was a wonderful experience! The animals - as only animals can do - made us feel like the best beings on Earth, and the interaction with the human families was icing on the cake. A young couple came in to collect their two cats to take them to the temporary housing they'd arranged, and the husband choked up when thanking us, saying how much it meant to have the time to "figure out what we were going to do with ourselves without having to worry about Spaz and Pip, too". (North Dakota men don't typically get emotional about much!) :-)

Kay, the founder of the recently-formed sole animal rescue group in Valley City, was in awe that David and I had come all the way from Colorado, and Mari from California, to assist. She stopped mid-sentence when talking about how she didn't know what they'd have done without us, and said "I'll start crying again if I say more". The gratitude of the families and the local volunteers makes any sacrifice we make seem pretty insignificant.

This evening while in the cat room ensuring everyone was settled in for the night, a woman popped in asking "any chance you've heard anything about a little black and white terrier?" The look on her face when Mari and I smiled at each other and said "follow us" was the perfect ending to a long day. Check that - the looks on the faces of "Mama" and "Tigger" when they spotted one another was the perfect ending to
a long day. After a few hours rest, I can't wait to do it all over again tomorrow.


Saturday April 18, 2009

Story by Mari Donovan, Region One Assistant Coordinator

See story in the Valley City Times

One storm dog found his way home! Bruiser, the young American Bulldog found wandering the streets of Valley City, ND was reunited with his owner today, which leaves the Noah's Wish Disaster Shelter at the Winter Show Livestock Arena with only animals placed by their owners in our care.

The good news in Friday morning's briefing was that the river volume appears to have stabilized, and no overflow of the dykes is expected in Valley City. However, at noon time, Dave and I heard the Civil Defense claxons sounding. We wondered, out loud, what this might indicate and we were told "Oh, probably just a call for sandbaggers". Turns out the blasting signal was to alert residents that the main sewer line had become overwhelmed and that the system was "popping", meaning that the sewer system is unusable and backing up, and potable water is limited. Port-a-potties dot the town and pallets of bottled water are highly visible.

Resultantly many residents, who had opted to stay in their homes during the voluntary evacuation recommendations, are now vacating and seeking shelter for their animals. In just a few hours, David and I took in 12 dogs and 8 cats, juggling crates and space. Our shelter count is now 20 dogs, 16 cats, 1 bunny and 1 ferret. Dr. Jen, the local vet, came to assist with health assessments and Kay Kringlie of Sheyenne Valley Friends of the Valley made calls to local volunteers for assistance with the evening walk and care protocols. Reinforcements made quick work of our evening tasks.

Konnie Olson, a Noah's Wish volunteer from Denver, arrived this evening, so we now have three blue shirts on the ground, with Lisa Prince, also of Denver, expected tomorrow night.

Residents of Valley City, North Dakota have worked very long days for over three weeks to save their city from floodwater; over 400,000 sandbags have been filled, moved and placed along the banks of the Sheyenne River, successfully holding the river at bay. Those who now have to leave their homes are so appreciative to have this shelter for their beloved "furry family" members. It is an honor to serve this community

Friday April 17, 2009

Story by Mari Donovan Region One Assistant Coordinator - I arrived at the Wintershow Livestock building Thursday morning, I was able to peruse the facility and meet the animals sheltered there. I was soon met by Dr. Jen Fischer, the local vet who was running the temporary shelter, as well as a couple of local volunteers. Dr. Jen walked me through the procedures they had in place and turned over operations.

The facility is huge, a large Quonset hut style building, enclosed, with electricity, water and toilets. One third of the building is currently Sandbag Central, the middle third is the rodeo area - perfect for walking dogs, and the remaining part is where the crates, food and other supplies for the animals is staged. Upstairs offices serve as the current quarters for the animals displaced by evacuation orders in Valley City. Part of the morning was spent moving crates, designating one small office for cats only - ten in number, and the larger office for the eight dogs, one bunny and one ferret. One of the dogs was a stray, a very wiggly American Bulldog mix that was bouncing and clowning in his crate, the rest of the animals all owned.

Later in the morning, Becky, a Prairie Paws volunteer from down the road in Jamestown arrived to help out. Cats were freshened up, dogs walked, cage cards put in place. Soon Noah's Wish Volunteer Dave Thompson from Colorado joined us and I was delighted - he is Cat Man!

Through the day, four cats went home and we had no new arrivals. Becky received word from the shelter in Jamestown that they had received four more dogs. Jamestown is looking at Sunday as being their high-water day, so people are getting edgy about their dykes holding; resultantly they are seeking shelter for their pets.

I am spending tonight at the Red Cross shelter in Oriska, about 10 miles up the road. The site is a high school, ergo access to computers! I feel somewhat brain-dead, and that this missive is a bit boring, none of the "Aaaah" stories, but I did want to keep y'all posted as to goings on. When I have access, I will post a bit for you.

Thursday April 16, 2009

First response team is on the ground in Valley City and operating the emergency shelter there. The shelter located on the outskirts of the city is home to 7 dogs, 10 cats and 1 bunny at this time. The Sheyenne River is expected to crest on Sunday more information as it becomes available.

Tuesday April 14, 2009

Just when you thought it was over, Noah's Wish has been invited back to North Dakota. The potential for flooding in Valley City, North Dakota is increasing as the Sheyenne River reaches record levels. Right now levees holding back the floodwaters are withstanding the torrent, but with an expected increase in flow, authorities are asking for us to return and staff an emergency shelter in Valley City. The first volunteers will arrive late tomorrow evening to assess the situation. More information will be posted as it is received.

Noah's Wish winds down its North Dakota Deployment!

Updated Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Noah's Wish is closing its operation in North Dakota as most volunteers are either home or heading that way. While we were instrumental in getting two emergency shelters set up and ready to receive animals, the weather turned from Spring back to Winter as more snow and freezing temperatures blanketed the area. The colder temperatures have caused the rivers to form more ice and generally slowed the water flow and reduced pressure on levees. While this is very good news for now, there could be more problems when the Spring thaw arrives later this month. Today's will be the last posting for this deployment

Updated Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Snow continues to fall in the areas around Fargo. Michele Cutler, Region 2 Coordinator, reported that a meeting with local officials and Noah's Wish will be held this morning and decisions about whether to begin the demobilization process will be made at that time. Freezing temperatures have slowed the flow of water in the Red River, giving residents of Fargo relief from immediate flooding. Weather forcasts predict temperatures around the Red River Valley area will remain below freezing for the next several weeks reducing the probability of flooding until a real "spring thaw" occurs.

Updated Monday March 30, 2009

At the request of the State Veterinary Team, Noah's Wish volunteers and coordinators were sent to Jamesville, which is located about half way between Fargo and Bismarck to help a local animal rescue group, Prairie Paws Rescue, by delivering supplies and setting up a temporary shelter for their community. The task has been completed and our team is riding out the blizzard that hit the area today. So far all levees are holding and no additional evacuations have been ordered.

Setting up the shelter in Bismarck

Updated Sunday March 29, 2009

Noah's Wish volunteers in Bismarck were so successful in their efforts to set up an emergency shelter that they have been requested by the state to move closer to Fargo and help locals set up another shelter there.

Coordinators and volunteers, led by Michele Cutler, Region 2 and Susan Haraway, Region 3 are on the move, their target is Jamestown, North Dakota, this city of 20,000 is about 100 miles to the southeast of Bismarck. Jamestown must watch not only the Red River, but the James River, a tributary of the Missouri River and the Sheyenne River, a tributary of the Red River, which both can cause additional flooding in this area.

With the latest report that the height of the river was receding, people started to breathe a sigh of relief, but that was short lived as it was announced that a blizzard is due to hit the area later this evening. The storm will bring several inches of snow and blustery winds in excess of 40 miles per hour. The winds will put additional stress on the fragile levees overnight, so everyone is still on alert for breaches that could cause flooding in the populated areas.

Updated Saturday March 28, 2009

As freezing water batters the levees in Fargo, N.D., and people collectively hold their breath to see if their hastily built barriers can withstand the unprecedented onslaught, Noah's Wish is quietly positioning itself to care for those animals forced to flee their homes in anticipation of the worst.

We have dispatched a team of volunteers to Bismarck, N.D., to assist with companion-animal rescue and sheltering efforts in the midst of record flooding predicted for Fargo, a city of over 92,000 this weekend.

The Red River near Fargo broke a 112-year-old record Friday when it reached a flood level of 40.33 feet — more than 22 feet above flood stage and inches more than the previous high water mark of 40.1 feet set in 1897. The National Weather Service said it could crest as high as 43 feet Sunday. Fargo's main dike protects the city at the 43-foot level and officials are concerned about the ability of the levee to hold back the river if it goes any higher.

Anticipating the worst, evacuations have begun for areas already impacted by floodwaters, with additional areas scheduled to begin moving to higher ground on Saturday. With the large number of people with companion animals that may need sheltering, Noah's Wish is working to move supplies and volunteers into Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota.

Working with assistant North Dakota state veterinarian Dr. Jessie Vollmar, Noah's Wish responded to the state's request to assist with the set up and operation of a shelter in the capital city for the care of up to 1,000 animals, most of which are owned by residents of Fargo, who will be making a 3 ½-hour drive under icy road conditions and freezing temperatures to shelters in the Bismarck area. The numbers are contingent on whether or not the levees in Fargo are able to hold back the river over the next few days.

The emergency shelter will be set up on the premises of an empty car dealership in Bismarck thanks to the generosity of the Theel family, who moved their dealership to a new site. The location has several heated buildings with electricity, water and peripheral fencing, all necessities for successfully sheltering. The site will provide plenty of room for the animals, as well as, much-needed food and medical supplies. Initial plans call for housing 600 animals at the location with alternative sites identified for overflow sheltering if needed.

Bismarck municipal authorities have offered to clear snow from the car-dealership lot ahead of the arrival of supply shipments and the Noah's Wish team, which includes volunteers from New York, Indiana, Ohio, Montana, Michigan and California.

PetSmart Charities, which champions saving the lives of homeless pets, provides a tremendous service to communities impacted by disasters by offering 50-foot trailers of disaster pet supplies to hard-hit areas throughout the United States. Their fleet of strategically placed emergency supply fleets enables them to reach areas fast, providing much-needed supplies to care for animals in need. Two of its trailers will deliver supplies to the Bismarck shelter Wednesday April 1, 2009

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