2020 has been an unforgettable year. We spent the early months adapting to Covid-19 and collaborating with our community advisors to make sure animals had what they needed; only to face one of the worst fire seasons yet. Once again, our community came together to support the animals affected by the disasters and Napa CART was deployed for both the LNU Lightning Complex Fires and the Glass Fire. We witnessed first hand the healing power of the human-animal bond, and the resilience animals bring to the recovery phase ahead.
Prior to fire season, Covid-19 forced Napa CART to pivot disaster training and planning. Animal Search and Rescue Co-Leader Nancy Kerson developed a series of online classes to tune our volunteers up on skills and knowledge necessary to conduct Napa CART responsibilities. In addition, Napa CART leadership developed an online training video for safely assessing and caring for horses in disasters. Many of our volunteers had participated in these classes when lighting struck on August 17th.
Pre-designated shelter sites stocked with panels and supplies were activated when the LNU Lightning Complex fire swept into the Berryessa hills. Napa County CERT teams provided tremendous mutual aid and went to work setting panels at the shelters as evacuation trailers were rolling in. In total, 137 horses and 65 livestock were sheltered at VBEC, NVHA and Ag 4 Youth in the following weeks the fires burned. Napa CART worked under the leadership of Napa County Animal Services, alongside Napa Humane, Jameson Humane, Sunrise Horse Rescue, and Wine Country Animal Lovers to meet the needs of the community and support the response in the shelters and in the field. Animals remained in the shelters for two weeks, under the care of hundreds of volunteers who showed up in the smoke and hot weather, wearing masks and ready to lend a hand. Napa CART volunteers logged over 3500 hours in the LNU response and continued to deliver feed, water and veterinary support to those who lost resources during the fires.
Just three weeks later, the Glass Fire erupted in the early hours of September 27. Napa CART was activated at 6:40am and numerous evacuation teams staged at Deer Park, and were escorted in to pick up horses and livestock in harm’s way. Many of the animals evacuated in the Glass Fire, had also been evacuated in the Lightning Complex. Sadly, the early am evacuation in the dark prevented many from safely evacuating their animals. The Shelter in Place efforts to care for the animals left behind were enormous, and once again Napa County CERT teams stepped up to provide command and communications support. Care of over 800 animals in the field was carefully and safely orchestrated with the leadership of Napa County OES and CERT tracking and mapping of addresses needing assistance. Hundreds of cats, chickens, goats, sheep, cattle and others were cared for in the field until their owners could return.
Several people who lost their homes expressed heartfelt relief knowing their animals were being cared for. One gentleman who’s chickens had survived the loss of his home in Deer Park, said it
best when he remarked upon the resilience of animals and the hope they bring in the face of loss.
As we look to the sky for rain and an end to fire season, we can be thankful for the joy animals bring to our daily lives and for the resilience of our community in responding to disasters. Napa CART has many new lessons learned to share with animal owners and volunteers alike. We will continue the important work of outreach and planning to face the challenges ahead, and truly appreciate your support. You can find us this year in Napa Valley CanDo’s Give!Guide
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