Posted by: thepinetree on 09/13/2015 05:39 PM
Updated by: thepinetree on 09/13/2015 05:39 PM
Expires: 01/01/2020 12:00 AM
Letter to the Editor/Thank You to Butte Fire Evac Center Volunteers ~ By Carrie Stroble
Angels Camp, CA...Please help me thank the selfless people in our community who stepped up during the first two days of the Butte Fire at the animal evacuation center established at the Calaveras Fairgrounds on September 10th. During these first two days, people came together to support the People and Animals affected by this fire. When my mother and I showed up at the fairgrounds to “volunteer” on Friday morning, we found Mr. Beck had bussed over students from Bret Harte High School. These kids hauled out goat panels in the livestock barns and were setting up pens to hold dogs and livestock. In the Small Animal Barn, they brought out the poultry and rabbit pens that were used to hold all types of small animals during the first two days. The students divided themselves into groups and with little direction got it done. Their actions made it possible for animals to be held in the safest and securest manner possible during these first couple of days. Cats, dogs, snakes, mice, guinea pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, llamas and hogs showed up in the barns, and a collective of non-affiliated volunteers took these animals in, got them housed and kept them cared for in three of the five barns at the Calaveras Fairgrounds. Horses were taken in and managed by a group of volunteers down at the rodeo arena.
For two days people showed up offering to help; People from our Calaveras County communities and people from Livermore, Modesto, Oakley, Pleasanton, Turlock, Sacramento and Tuolumne County. Two phrases prevailed: “we brought you supplies” and “what can we do to help.” Donations of animal food, litter, bedding and supplies could be measured in tonnages.
During a fire, you expect to see fire equipment staged. We saw ad-hoc “strike teams” of trucks with horse and livestock trailers. One couple said “Our animals and home is safe. We don’t have much, but we have a truck and trailer and we can help get animals to the evac center.” This couple brought in multiple loads of animals throughout the wee hours of Saturday morning.
The generosity of people was humbling. Think of the diversity of animals we had show up, now think what it takes to feed, bed, comfort, exercise, potty and pick up after each. We didn’t always know each other’s names. Names really didn’t matter. The animals and their owners mattered.
Thanks to the 4-H and FFA members (and their parents). Your help and knowledge was instrumental in keeping the livestock settled and secured.
Names were not important, but there are a few people who were "Hometown Heroes", Joy, you and your kids from Copper were amazing, and I regret not getting your last name. Samantha Tillman is a trained Vet Tech living in Sonora worked with over 100 rabbits brought to the barn (and veterinarians, she is looking for employment). There was Ellen from Angels Vet, who made “rounds” through the barns and paddocks, checking any animal someone noticed was injured or "acting off." Two unidentified men brought in the largest fans you could imagine. These fans were instrumental in maintaining the comfort of the small animals during the intense heat we experienced on Friday. And then there was my Mom, “Shirley.” Moms are great. My mom is the best. She helped us stay organized, made the first supply run and even helped people uncrate cats. BTW, my mother is allergic to cats.
A special Thank You to Spence Feeds and Calaveras Lumber, when we first got there on Saturday, these two businesses, provided anything we asked for and helped get us up and running.
For the first two days, the activity in the barns demonstrated what a grass-roots movement is capable of. People were concerned about people and animals, not waivers, releases and we must COA against lawsuits. It was just a group of everyday people coming together and getting it done. It was beautiful to behold. To these people, your kind, compassionate, selfless acts made the early days of this disaster a bit easier on those directly affected. Evacuees repeatedly expressed their gratitude as they shared their stories while getting their animals settled.
On their behalf, Thank You.