As Hurricane Dorian slammed the Bahamas Sunday, a local animal shelter mobilized efforts to help displaced pets and shelter animals in areas that may be impacted by the storm.
“No one likes to see animals hurt, lost or displaced,” said Kristie Buccella, shelter director of the North Shore Animal League America in Port Washington who organized the drive. “Oftentimes people are just so uprooted. They can't care for themselves, barely for their animals.”
Residents donated pet food, towels, litter, crates and carriers over the weekend at the makeshift drive station under a tent on Lewyt Street in Port Washington.
Dorian, which strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane, made landfall in the Bahamas Sunday afternoon. The massive storm is expected to bring tropical storm-force winds and very heavy rain to eastern Florida, according to the National Weather Service.
“I saw what it does, the hurricanes like Maria,” said Allison Courtney, 34, of Massapequa, referring to the deadly Category 5 hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. "It sucked. People were leaving their dogs. It just got me really upset."
Courtney, who has two dogs, “Chloe” and “Pierre,” heard about the drive through social media and spent the better part of her Sunday morning shopping for supplies. She then drove 40 minutes to Port Washington to drop off paper towels, bleach, garbage bags and pads.
“So anything I can do [to help],” Courtney said. “I help the animals because they can’t help themselves.”
Lucy Anderson, 66, of Hicksville, carried a diaper changing table used for her 4-year-old grandson, Shane Anderson, to the makeshift drive station. She thought the table could function as a bed for a cat or a small dog.
“I’d rescue all of them if I could,” said the grandmother, who has two dogs and three cats.
The drive on Sunday ends at 8 p.m. and will continue Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 15 Lewyt St.
A mobile unit carrying the supplies is planned to head south Tuesday morning. If needed, Buccella said the truck would carry some animals back to Long Island for adoption to help swamped shelters down south free some space. The truck has 37 empty slots for cats and small dogs.
“Sometimes people do reunite with their pets," Buccella said, standing next to two large bins filled with donated items, many of which were new with tags on them. "Basically the goal is to help them free some room" so that the shelters can temporarily host the animals until their owners can reunite with them.
The animal shelter asks for items including cat and dog food, treats, toys, paper towels, garbage bags, litter, crates, carriers, water bowls, new or gently used towels.