(October 2, 2008) —By Charlotte Bass Lilly, executive director

Volunteer starts cleanup in what used to be rehab area near rehab pool with jets. Fencing in rear and fencing between sections totally gone. Photos by Kim Chambliss, disaster volunteer from Nashville, TN.

Volunteer starts cleanup in what used to be rehab area near rehab pool with jets. Fencing in rear and fencing between sections totally gone. Photos by Kim Chambliss, disaster volunteer from Nashville, TN.

ARNO echoes the face of the population after Katrina, Gustav and even Ike … resilient. Resilient we may be, but we are taking a deep breath and rolling up our sleeves …a familiar feeling in the Crescent City. This time we are faced with rebuilding after Gustav, certainly not as damaging as Katrina to our area but just as devastating to our no-kill triage shelter.

The photos show what our shelter looked like when the first group of volunteers was able to return to the shelter. Our shelter pets were still safe at their evacuation sites when these photos were taken. There was no power and we had lost a substantial part of our operation… all our outside facilities. Our main building/warehouse sustained almost zero damage, just as it fared in Katrina. But ARNO’s shelter lost much — perimeter fencing in the front and back areas, isolation areas for canines in the rear yard and front enclosure, 24-hour TNR staging area, our rear runs/kennels and turnout area, three out of four of our commercial propane heaters, our fenced-in rehabilitation area in the rear (the rehab pool did survive), our 20×20’ white tent covering the front area, and our 60×20’ tent in the rear. The hurricane force winds also blew out the front and back of our Cat Breezeway, which we can live with until it starts to turn cold. We also lost our storage ability in these areas that were protected from the weather.

Front isolation area with shoreline cages.

Front isolation area with shoreline cages.

Storage is extremely important to keep food supplies (and litter!) out of the weather. ARNO has to have enough food on hand to keep our shelter pets fed properly. If we have a surplus we often provide food to other groups, some smaller and less able to procure and store, when they are in need. In addition, when disasters strike we are very often called on to help. ARNO has provided pet food to Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter, SpayMart, HSLA, St. Francis Animal Sanctuary, Small Animal Rescue in Amite, CAAWS, Raven Wood Sanctuary, and independent Mississippi cat rescue groups. While much of the food is donated, transportation to get the food here is very expensive because of fuel costs and originating destination. One truckload of food can cost as much as $4,000 to transport to New Orleans.

So much has been accomplished…

Front 24-hr TNR staging area… dividers are from breezeway being cleaned by volunteer.

Front 24-hr TNR staging area… dividers are from breezeway being cleaned by volunteer.

The ‘good news’ is we are encroaching a magic number of animals helped through our shelter… 5,000! Think about it… 5,000 animals since the inception of our shelter in March of 2006. Five thousand companion pets received shelter and loving care, were administered medicines, were treated for heartworms, infections, and wounds and, of course, spayed or neutered. How many would these animals have reproduced by now if left on the street? Tens of thousands for sure if, in fact, they would have survived.

The even better ‘good news’ comes from the animals themselves — all now safe in loving homes for the rest of their lives. Quite an accomplishment, but ARNO did not do it alone. We had the help of volunteers who methodically every day, seven days a week, took loving care of these wonderful pets. Volunteers continue to come from the surrounding local areas, and from all over North America. We also had the assistance of Stealth volunteers to find the caretakers of those who were lost. Plus we had wonderful homes waiting for a new companion to become a cherished member of their family.
So many helped, so much accomplished… And who really made it all possible? You, the person who bothered to care and donate $5, $50, $500 and, yes, some of you were able to give even more.

Shot of front from side… used to be 30 x 20 area for isolation, dishwashing area, TNR staging area, and outside 10x10 enclosed area for storage. The dumpster fared fine.

Shot of front from side… used to be 30 x 20 area for isolation, dishwashing area, TNR staging area, and outside 10×10 enclosed area for storage. The dumpster fared fine.

Funds needed to rebuild

Our plan is to rebuild from the front to the back as we raise the funds. At this point we have collected enough funds to replace the perimeter fencing in the front which is estimated at $4200, and that work is scheduled to start on Friday, October 10. This fenced enclosure will also make possible a more secure entrance to the Cat Breezeway, but will not protect any of this area from the weather. We will initially need to replace the 20×20 foot tent to top the area enclosed by the new front fencing. Eventually, this tent will be replaced with a modular roofing system, similar to what we are planning to build/install in our rear kennel yard. The new roofing system will be made up of a framed structure that locks in fiberglass corrugated panels that can be unlocked, making for easy and quick removal of the panels in times of hurricane force winds. The framed structure will offer no resistance to the wind, and when the storm is over we pop in the panels and lock them back in place. In the wintertime we are going to make use of the sides of our destroyed 60×20 foot tent to enclose the roofed structure and keep in the heat provided by commercial propane heaters that also need to be replaced. The sides of the tent were carefully stored away for wintertime use, so they thankfully survived Gustav.

Volunteer starts cleanup in what used to be rehab area near rehab pool with jets. Fencing in rear and fencing between sections totally gone.

Volunteer starts cleanup in what used to be rehab area near rehab pool with jets. Fencing in rear and fencing between sections totally gone.

The rebuild plan includes making the areas rebuilt as impervious to high winds as possible. The fencing is being installed with gates that can open wide and be secured ‘open’ to allow hurricane winds to pass through without resistance, therefore not knocked down. Plus a special installation will be involved to make the fencing and its metal support structure and gate framing stronger to take higher tropical force storm winds. If we are going to do it again, we must rebuild so we do not have to do this again.

Rebuilding Budget

Front perimeter fencing replaced $4200.00

Commercial heaters (3) replaced 1800.00

20 x 20 front tent replaced (until modular roof built) 1500.00

Cat Breezeway enclosed properly* 10,800.00

Cat Breezeway front/back closure replaced   3000.00

Free roam cat room at end of breezeway into yard* 3000.00

Looking into the now ‘open’ Cat Breezeway. Both ends were blown out by hurricane force winds. Colorful dividers provided ‘walls’ between cat kennels to prevent spread of airborne virus and bacteria.

Looking into the now ‘open’ Cat Breezeway. Both ends were blown out by hurricane force winds. Colorful dividers provided ‘walls’ between cat kennels to prevent spread of airborne virus and bacteria.

Heating/cooling for breezeway* 3800.00

Facelift (paint and new awning) to bldg. front* 1200.00

Rear 8 ft high perimeter cyclone fencing w/razor wire   2900.00

Rear fencing/gates between kennels and rehab area   1200.00

Repair of pharmacy sheetrocked ceiling 350.00

Electrical work for lighting/support changes; new box 2900.00

Emergency generators 5000w (2)* 1200.00

Total repairs (without tax) $37,850.00

*new items or items properly constructed to withstand high winds, as opposed to replaced items; we were in the process of raising funds for the Cat Breezeway to be enclosed to the weather properly when Gustav and Ike made their way to Louisiana and Texas.

No floods during Gustav, but the day after cleanup was halted because of torrential rains. Worried the pumping stations were not working because of lack of power, volunteers were told to ‘call it a day’ so they would not be trapped in the dark at the ARNO powerless shelter.

No floods during Gustav, but the day after cleanup was halted because of torrential rains. Worried the pumping stations were not working because of lack of power, volunteers were told to ‘call it a day’ so they would not be trapped in the dark at the ARNO powerless shelter.

ARNO is asking you to help us make the rebuilding of our facility possible. You have sustained ARNO since Katrina and made everything we do for animals possible. Please consider a continued investment in our all-volunteer grassroots organization. Without our outside facilities containing our exterior runs and isolation areas we have limited area within the warehouse to care for animals, which also limits our ability take in animals who really need our help.
The people of our region need our continued help, too. Our Pet Retention Program must grow and help more low income persons and indigents properly maintain and keep their pets. These people cannot afford another loss, very often the loss of their only companion. The animals cannot afford to lose their caretakers either, possibly to be surrendered to already overcrowded municipal shelters or, worse, abandoned on the streets to fend for themselves. This program has done so much to help humans and companion animals who already have a home, as well as to educate their caretakers on the proper care of their pets. YOU have allowed us to make a difference in thousands of animals’ lives. Please help us to continue this important work and help us rebuild our no-kill facility. We have a petition signed by paws belonging to five thousand companion animals… they need us to continue so we can get thousands more on the road to their permanent loving home.

Please consider a tax-deductible donation today by donating through PayPal, or if you prefer through a check and the mail service. We will post the progress of our building fund as often as possible so you know how much you have helped with your generosity.