On Wednesday, February 12, 2014, the second ice storm in as many weeks hit IPPL’s gibbon sanctuary.
That first storm, it turned out, had weakened numerous tree limbs, especially among our pines. The second onslaught sent huge branches—some weighing hundreds of pounds—crashing down from heights of over 50 feet.
Our animal caregiver Samantha Martin was the first to suspect that we might be in for a tough time. At about 8:00 Wednesday morning, she was headed toward Gibbon House #9 when, two seconds after hearing a loud Snap!, a 10-foot branch fell to the ground about five feet behind her. She radioed her fellow staff members to inform them of her near-demise; they thought she was just being dramatic. At first. Then branches started raining down, hard, on our Animal Care Cottage, the main building where we do gibbon food prep/storage and emergency vet care.
For much of the day Wednesday, about every 10 seconds an enormous Crack! from a falling limb somewhere on the property sent our animal caregivers scrambling in the cold and freezing rain to make sure that no animals had been harmed. As Samantha said, “It was like a war zone.”
Many of these limbs, sheared off to a jagged point, turned into javelins that punctured the roofs of structures (especially near Jade and Palu-Palu), smashed through the cab of our trusty Ranger pickup truck, and nearly landed on top of our animal caregivers any number of times.
Then, at about 10:00 a.m. (about the time the freezing rain started up…), the power went out. The storm left the sanctuary without electricity for some 33 hours in frigid temperatures. We had about half a dozen gas and diesel generators lined up to provide emergency power overnight—but with a generator, you can’t just “set it and forget it,” you have to make sure it hasn’t run out of fuel, tripped a breaker, or run into some other difficulty. Our animal caregivers took it in turns to monitor the equipment day and night to make sure all the Gibbon Houses were comfortable and secure.
All day Thursday, as cleanup efforts began, everybody kept an eye out for returning power. When the electricity came on again around 7:00 p.m., Hardy and Rachel spent another couple of hours making sure everything was going back online safely.
The silver lining in all this? Our friends in need!
On Valentine’s Day, we sent out an urgent e-mail appeal for funds to help us repair and rebuild. In addition, our good friends at the American Anti-Vivisection Society sent out a special e-mail appeal yesterday to their supporters asking for contributions.
We need to: replace our essential Ranger pickup truck (which we use for any serious hauling around the sanctuary), repair damage to buildings and other structures, clean up the sanctuary grounds (we’ll need to hire an arborist to get rid of some of the remaining snagged limbs), and replace one of our generators. To date, we have raised over $10,000. We have been so touched by the response!
We have also had a number of volunteers take time away from clearing away their own debris to help us get things under control. Today we have had wind and rain that will bring down even more snags. A local man was actually killed two days ago in his backyard when a snagged tree limb fell on top of him.
We are so grateful that none of our animals, staff members, or volunteers have been hurt throughout this ordeal. It’s going to take us weeks to get back to “normal.” But we’re on our way!
Thank you to everyone who has volunteered or donated to help us recover from this disaster!
(And please share this post with anyone else who might like to contribute!)