Help was mostly just a few miles––or blocks––from the tornado path
LITTLE ROCK, LOUISVILLE, MEMPHIS, NASHVILLE, ST. LOUIS––Major national charities are putting in their inevitable fundraising photo-ops, but major animal rescue deployments are not expected––or wanted by most local humane societies and animal control agencies––in response to tornadoes that ripped through parts of Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio on the night of December 10, 2021 and the morning of December 11, 2021.
More than 50 individual tornado strikes were reported to the National Weather Service, but the majority were associated with what has been dubbed the “Quad State Tornado,” produced by a single thunderstorm that crossed four states in four hours, leaving behind a debris trail about 235 miles long but only half a mile to a mile wide.
Though apparently of record length, the “Quad State Tornado” path was narrow enough that help for stricken communities was in most places only a few miles away. The total area afflicted, from one end of the tornado cluster to the other, appears to have been about half the size of Memphis.
Vultures expected in Clay County, Tennessee
As many as 100 humans are believed to have been killed, chiefly in warehouse and candle factory collapses in Mayfield, Kentucky.
By far the most numerous casualties, however, were poultry.
“Four poultry barns collapsed in Clay County [Tennessee], trapping 80,000 chickens,” reported Meghan Mangrum and Sandy Mazza for the Nashville Tennessean.
Elaborated WSMV digital content manager Joseph Wenzel, “According to the Clay County Sheriff, the storms hit a section of Clay County Highway where Tyson Foods own several chicken plants. There are chicken houses at the plants, and the storms is believed to have taken out four of the chicken houses.
“Inside those houses are probably tens of thousands of chickens, and all are expected to be dead due to the storm, according to the Clay County Sheriff,” Wenzel said.
Horse rescue in Defiance
Clay County, Tennessee, ironically, was near the end of the “Quad State Tornado” trail of destruction.
The animal-related incident attracting the most media notice was the December 10, 2021 rescue of four horses from a collapsed barn near the unincorporated town of Defiance in St. Charles County, northwest of St. Louis––a community best known as the last home of Daniel Boone (1734-1820), who retired to a farm there in 1799.
The New Melle Fire Protection District “had to clear roads of trees and debris in order to get heavy equipment through to assist in their recovery efforts. As they worked, they found multiple homes were completely destroyed, with nothing left but the foundations,” reported Amri Wilder of KSDK television news in St. Louis.
“A large barn that had collapsed with horses inside. At the time, crews could see four horses were visible and alive, but heavily trapped,” Wilder said.
Five hours, five vets, four horses saved
“Rescuers worked five hours to take the barn apart with chainsaws and skid steers to free the horses. Five veterinarians came to help with sedating and treating the animals.
“The horses were rescued from the barn, though one of them later died. Another one was dead before crews even arrived,” Wilder added.
The New York Post, among other media, featured photos and video of the horse rescue the following day.
Menard County, Illinois sheriff deputy chief Ben Hollis reported structural damage to a cattle barn on Altig Bridge Road near Petersburg, Illinois, outside the main tornado path, but made no mention of animal casualties.
Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter
The Kentucky Humane Society, in Louisville, posted to Facebook that “The Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter sustained minor damage, but the shelter animals are safe. The community is deeply hurting,” the Kentucky Humane Society posting added, “and we know that companion animals in Mayfield and beyond are impacted, and that pets may be lost or injured, and others may be surrendered as families deal with the storm’s aftermath.
“The Kentucky Humane Society has offered to help our friends at the Mayfield shelter in any way that they and their community need,” the posting continued. “Mayfield is one of our Love 120 shelter partners, and we have worked extensively with them over the last three years. We ask that the general public hold off on offering direct assistance while the Mayfield shelter team deals with this immediate crisis and determines how best the public can help.
“We will let Kentucky Humane Society supporters know as this situation progresses how you can assist cats, dogs and horses from tornado-impacted areas,” the posting finished.
The Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter, between electrical outages, posted instructions for people who are looking for lost and strayed animals in the area, or who find animals.
“Our phones will be down for the foreseeable future,” the Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter said. Staff are on-site from 8:00 to 4:00 daily. Please knock on the front door. You may also message the shelter Facebook page. Our staff and volunteers will do our best to respond to messages. We are accepting strays from 8:00 to 4:00 daily.
“If anyone is need of food or supplies, please stop by the shelter,” the Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter added. “We also left supplies at Catalyst Church for anyone in need. We are only responding to emergency animal control calls at this time. Please dial 911 to report an animal emergency.”
The Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter pledged to “do our best to get photos of all [incoming found animals] posted on our page. If an animal is not microchipped on intake, we will microchip it and enter any information we have, along with our information.
“Wonderful show of support”
“We predict that by Monday or Tuesday all dogs/cats we have had for 10 days or longer will be transferred out to placement partners, thus making room for new intake,” the Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter continued, mentioning that “We have been offered and will receive assistance from the Humane Society of the U.S. in various forms.”
Meanwhile, the Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter mentioned, “We had a wonderful show of support today [December 11, 2021] with donations and folks taking home laundry,” to wash in their homes, since the shelter had no electricity with which to run washing machines and dryers.
“Work was done on tree removal and fence repair so dogs can have outside time,” the Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter added.
Kicking in doors
The Brandywine Valley SPCA, with two locations in Delaware and another in Pennsylvania, on December 11, 2021 posted that “This morning our team left in our rescue bus to help in Kentucky. In partnership with the ASPCA,” the Brandywine Valley SPCA said, “we’ll help empty Kentucky Humane Society’s pre-storm adoptables so they can intake animals from the badly damaged Mayfield shelter and support families who may have lost pets, their homes or even human life.”
The Animal Rescue Corps, of Lebanon, Tennessee, said only that it “is in communication with affected agencies there and will be providing support.”
The Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter meanwhile sought to discourage “SUV people,” short for “Spontaneous Unsolicited Volunteers,” who tend to congregate in disaster areas and often become a disaster themselves.
“We have received a few calls about people kicking in doors and taking animals,” the Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter said. “The owners don’t know where their pets have gone. If the animal is not in immediate danger, this is not okay.”
Ark R.A.I.N. Wildlife Sanctuary
The Ark R.A.I.N. Wildlife Sanctuary, headed by Timothy and Toni Davies in Brownsville, Tennessee, of December 12, 2021 mentioned to Facebook followers that, “The power is finally back here! We would like to thank all of the electricians who made that happen by working so hard for almost two days and who will continue to work until everyone has power again!
“We have been informed that the substation that supplies power to around four counties was destroyed and is being rebuilt. The electric company is only able to get power back on to certain areas a little a time. We are grateful that we were one of the first, for the animals sake,” the Ark R.A.I.N. Wildlife Sanctuary added, “but feel for everyone who is still out.”
The Ark R.A.I.N. Wildlife Sanctuary posting finished by thanking “dozens and dozens of generous animal lovers” who had enabled the facility to buy generators to keep the more than 100 resident animals warm.