Hurricane Harvey, which struck the Texas coast in August of 2017, was truly a record setter, battering towns along the coast for four days with Category 4 winds. Rain was so heavy in some places of Houston that one location got over 60 inches of rain, setting a new record for rainfall total during a single United States storm. Rain also stretched 300 miles up the coast and 100 miles inland.
The rain and flooding that it caused over the next two weeks devastated property and crops, massively impacting both people and animals in 41 counties, which were declared disaster zones. These counties were home to 88,000 horses, mules and donkeys. The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) coordinated the efforts of 36 agencies to help animals during Hurricane Harvey; the Harvey Hotline fielded more than 700 calls for animal assistance.
Callers received lists of livestock evacuation facilities and TAHC, with the governor's approval, waived negative EIA tests on evacuated horses. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory developed guidelines for EIA-approved testing laboratories to test the horses in shelters to minimize disease transmission risk. The Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) was deployed in five locations to triage, treat and send animals to shelters or clinics that were still operating if necessary. A database was created and shared with entities that were treating the horses impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
Supplies and volunteers poured in, and 13 supply points were established, manned by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agents. Aircraft pilots from USDA Wildlife Services identified where livestock were stranded and National Guard helicopters dropped hay.
Read more about the rescue efforts that took place during Hurricane Harvey at Equine Disease Quarterly.
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