Hurricane Ian decimated entire parts of the west coast of Florida. Weeks later, some areas in the region are without power following massive flooding and destruction.
As first responders have been distributing aid and getting to people and places who need the most help, many animals have been left at the wayside.
But that’s something that Will Peratino and his partner Lauren Stepp couldn’t do, making a plan to rescue their two lemurs and flock of 275 parrots.
The couple was urged to evacuate their home on Pine Island due to widespread damage to roads, supply lines, and other infrastructure due to the hurricane but they wouldn’t do it without their animals, so “Operation Noah’s Ark” was started to help catch, cage, and ferry all of them to safety.
“We would not abandon them. I would never leave them. Never,” said Stepp, as volunteers worked on collecting the flock from dozens of coops at the Malama Manu Sanctuary. “If they cannot be fed or watered, they will die. And I can’t live with that.”
The bird’s food supply was beginning to run low as the downed bridges in the area made resource shipments next to impossible. Getting them off the island was going to help them survive.
Many of the birds came from homes that could no longer care for them, as most are rare or exotic birds that people took in as pets.
An unintended positive of “Project Noah’s Ark” is other animals finding refuge with the rescuers. Bryan Stern, the founder, and leader of Project Dynamo, which found four boats for the mission, said his team has rescued at least six dogs, and three cats, and before Tuesday’s massive rescue, three birds.
Project Dynamo previously aided people trying to evacuate flooded areas and eventually helped support the mission.
Inspired to act?
DONATE: If you want to help support people impacted by Hurricane Ian you can donate to Global Giving and their hurricane relief fund.
SUPPORT: Support local animal shelters and agencies trying to take care of animals without homes or shelters.