This storm has been disastrous for many, and for feral cats, it was devastating.
I got out of the house as soon as I felt I'd be safe today and went to check on some colonies.
My bakery colony looked fine. The warehouse where some live did not seem affected structurally, and there are plenty of places high up for the cats to stay if it flooded at all. The cats that live in the production area seem to have been spared the harshest of the weather, the ground under the overhang/partially enclosed area was completely dry - unbelievable.
So I headed over to LIC. Greasy Paws seemed OK, no sign of flooding and locals confirmed, but I did not see Beetle or Hexbit. Later in the day, a feeder there sent me this! He said he found him on top of a car and he came right over to eat. Atta-boy Beetle!!! No sign of Hexbit, but that's pretty normal, she's super feral and skittish.
Then I went to a colony on the water (location information not specific as this information can sometimes end up in the wrong hands). I don't manage this colony and haven't been over there since the day after Irene, but I was scared of what I might see, and rightfully so. Look at the water level, it is still in the parking lot on the other side of this fence.
This colony is on the water in Long Island City, Queens. I did not even think about them until I saw the LIC flooding pictures last night. Then it hit me, OH GOD, THE --- COLONY! I don't manage this colony, so it just didn't occur to me until it was too late. Half way down the block, not even at the colony yet, I saw a cat in the road that had met a tragic end.
As I got closer I saw a black cat run off - THANK GOODNESS!
Then, I made my way closer to the colony, and this is what I saw. This area was completely under water by several feet. Massive objects were moved around and debris from the receding waves was all over.
Water was still very high, scary high. As I looked around, I saw another cat, a gray and white cat! So that's two! He ran off before I could get his picture.
This feeding station was broken and about 100 yards away from its previous location.
Styrofoam cat shelters were strewn about the area upside-down and sideways, full of water, no straw remaining.
Insulation, lids and straw from plastic shelters completely removed.
Shelters buried under debris.
The water was still right up to the dock and I worried about further flooding tonight at high tide, but when we returned later the water level had gone down significantly.
So, realizing I was completely unprepared for this, I did what I could in the interim. I had packed my bike basket with a carrier, towels, a warm snuggle safe disk, some karo syrup, and that kind of thing assuming I might find an injured cat or abandoned kittens. I certainly did not have bales of straw and other supplies I needed. So I gathered some of the shelters, dumped the water out and set them up under the old feeding station, which was moved and a bit mangled but still sturdy, and planned to return with straw to re-fill them so they will be warm, safe and dry.
Here are a couple more, I put them under this plywood.
Then I made my way out, observing all the chaotic aftermath as I passed.
The water is right there.
And I got a pleasant surprise on my way out. One more cat was seen assessing the situation under a truck. So that's 3 cats alive. Let's all hope there are more still hiding out and playing it safe.
So I rode my bike home, tears in my eyes and wind knocking me around and reached out to my friends. Immediately, Eva jumped in an ordered a zip car and said I'm coming to get you at 2 p.m. and Lisa is joining us - Yay North Brooklyn Cats! Shawn and Dolores both donated straw for the shelters (hard to come by in a pinch). I popped in to pick up the straw from Muddy Paws and when they heard what we were up to they handed us a bag of food and wished us luck. Things were looking up - at least for the survivors. Eva and Lisa picked me up at 2 and off we went!
Please note, the following pictures from here on were taken by Eva Prokop, anyone using these pictures should credit her and link to her Flickr site.
We found a box and removed the remains of the one from the street so he could rest peacefully with dignity. Then back to the disaster area.
Time to get to work.
We saw a black bag around a box, which made us all uneasy luckily it was empty.
First things first, we got food out asap!
Lisa found Mary laying on the ground and found her a nice place in a tree to rest.
Then we went searching for more shelters. We knew there were more, just had to find them. Lisa found this one, put it back together, filled it with straw and bagged it.
Eva went to work on this one.
She filled it with straw (no, we don't know what happened to the insulation) and weighed it down with a sandbag we found.
Lisa found another shelter, but the lid was nowhere to be found, we figured we may have to improvise.
Then we kept searching, not just for shelters and the lid to the blue shelter, but for anything that helped us understand what all went down over there.
We are all happy to report we did not find anything we hoped not to find.
Then...epic find by Lisa! The lid to the blue shelter! SCORE!
Now we were just putting it all together. We used plywood to cover and weigh down these shelters.
Then over to the old feeding station where I put the shelters I found earlier in the day.
We filled them up with straw.
Then we arranged them around the food and water and made sure the doors pointed in so wind and water entry would be minimal.
Then we leaned some plywood against it to provide more shelter from bad weather.
And there we go! Safe, dry and warm shelter with plenty of food for the survivors.
And here is a sneak peak inside:)
We lost many of our feral friends last night, all over the North East. If you want to help please donate to local TNR rescuers and groups, get certified with Neighborhood Cats to perform TNR-Spay/Neuter, foster, adopt, pledge to spay/neuter 5 cats next year, volunteer...there are many ways to lend a helping hand. My friends and I are not a group, we're not an organization, we don't have any funding, we just go out and do what we can to help, and you can too. You don't need special skills to do TNR, all you need is a desire to help.
Thank you for reading and please share your own stories with us of your colonies and TNR efforts.