When Irma hit Tampa Bay and threatened our sanctuary, many champions sprang into action, proving that spirit and kindness can survive any storm...
Quite simply, we were blessed to have the help and support of many champions that ensured the safety and survival of our 750+ birds.
We were fortunate to have a comprehensive Critical Event Plan in place, one that we could immediately execute against as the hurricane moved closer.
When I was young, I used to hear my grandfather say what was then a curious expression to me: “Once burned, twice learned.” But as I’ve gotten older and (hopefully) wiser, I see how prescient it is.
From its inception, we labeled our Critical Event Plan as a “living” document that would be continually edited and updated—and now we have begun conducting a retrospective review of our “Irma” execution—asking ourselves, staff and volunteers “what went right… and where is there room for improvement?”
In honor of all our champions, we would like to start sharing ideas about how we can further improve our sanctuary from a disaster preparedness perspective—and provide a forum where we can hear YOUR IDEAS as well. We will feature one idea per month and encourage all our readers to share feedback and suggestions for how we might implement it.
First, we’ll share some lessons we learned that we know we can immediately improve upon:
1. No more plastic cage/carriers!
The birds chewed small holes in them and we will be replacing about 500 of them with metal cage/carriers. We will also require that new parronts placing their parrots in our forever home provide a metal (versus plastic) cage/carrier in case of such an event.
On a side note, I want to say thank you to a very special lady that is working with animal shelters in Austin Texas to collect a good quantity of excess metal crates donated during hurricane Harvey so we can use them at our sanctuary. We super appreciate this out of the box thinking.
2. We need to enhance the cage/carrier preparation area of our training programs.
We will be creating an additional training program to assist our volunteers in cage assembly, positioning the cage/carriers on sanctuary grounds and cage/carrier location labeling.
3. We need longer hoses!
As a whole, the 55-gallon sealable water jugs worked splendidly. We strategically positioned them around the sanctuary so we could cover the 65-gallon a day water requirements for the birds for at least a 7-day period. However, in the process of filling them, we realized that simply getting longer hoses to reach the outlying jugs would be much easier than trying to fill and transport them to that location. So, longer hoses are on the way!
So, these are 3 “low-hanging fruit” challenges that we have begun immediate remediation on.
FROM A LONGER-TERM PERSPECTIVE, there are some significant improvements we would like to make to Sanctuary Life Reimagined:
1. Co-locate a dedicated hurricane shelter on our property. As we already have our Pasco County site plan approved, we have already begun this process and are currently engaged in engineering and logistics studies.
2. Find an alternate source of energy to gasoline fueled generators. We are thinking solar as our sanctuary is located in the sunny state of Florida and this will be one of the upcoming ideas we will ask for your ideas and feedback on.
NOW FOR THE FIRST IDEA WE WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR COMMUNITY.
Note that we have created an email address where you can send us your ideas and as we hone in on the ones that we can implement, we will share them in an upcoming blog.
CHALLENGE: As we move to metal-only cage/carriers, we need a “parrot proof” location tagging system that we can assign to each cage.
SCENARIO: Each bird in a flight cage or aviary has gone through a lengthy acclimation process and we need to preserve this as we move the birds in and out of the enclosure. On plastic cage/carriers, we can easily write the location in permanent marker on the side or top of the cage/carrier. For our metal cage/carriers, we can do the same on the bottom of the cage/carrier.
However, should we have another evacuation event, we may lose precious time as we first must read the writing on the metal cage/carrier and then place that cage/carrier in close proximity to a flight cage or aviary.
SHARE YOUR IDEAS: Ideally, we would like to have a tagging apparatus that we could attach to the cage—but one that would not be an amusing toy for a parrot!
We already have a numbering scheme for all of our enclosures, so we can have pre-printed location tags stored along with the cage/carriers that we can simply attach as a parrot is placed in the cage/carrier.
Here are a few images of 3 of our metal cage/carriers that will need the tagging appratus attached to:
I would like to close with one of the many memorable quotes from our supporters (and I’ll have many more to come as we were beyond touched by the inspiring thoughts from all of you): “Please accept my support as a gesture of human nature… where we protect each other and our beloved birds.”
Well said "J.W." and thank you.