In the summer of 2016 Louisiana experienced some of its worst flooding since records began. But it wasn’t just people and property that were affected by the deluge – many pets and animals were left homeless and bereft as well. But for at least one stranded dog, help came just in the nick of time.
In August 2016, Louisiana was hammered by torrential rain, with the ensuing flood consequently devastating parts of the state. In fact, an estimated 40,000 households were affected and at least 30,000 people needed rescue. Furthermore, successful rescues were carried out on around 1,000 pets.
Additionally, at least 13 people tragically lost their lives. However, amid the chaos, some brave citizens showed tremendous courage and determination in their efforts to help those in need.
Two such citizens were volunteer rescuers Mike Anderson and Darrell Watson. They scoured the flood waters in search of survivors of both the two-legged and four-legged variety. Subsequently, one rescue went viral.
While Anderson and Watson were busily searching for survivors in the area around Baton Rouge, they came across something unexpected. The area had been hit hard, but from what they could see, two dogs were still clinging on for survival.
“We could see them in the distance from the flooded streets,” said Anderson when interviewed by animal-focused website The Dodo. “They were in about four feet of water and using a fence as a perch to rest on.”
So Anderson and Watson sprung into action; it was a race against time to save the stranded pooches. Indeed, the dogs were weak, and the rescuers guessed that they could have been stranded in the flood waters for as long as 16 hours.
They moved closer to the first dog and discovered that it was a pit bull pup. Then, after safely getting the dog on board their boat, the pair headed a few houses downstream to rescue an adult pit bull, which seemed to be moments from being swept away.
With both dogs safely on board, Anderson and Watson had to figure out what to do with them next. After all, tracking down the dogs’ owner wasn’t going to be an easy task, as there wasn’t much to go on.
Indeed, with no ID or witnesses to help them, the rescuers knew absolutely nothing of the dogs’ background. “I’m not sure if they were left behind, or if their owner just didn’t have time to get them,” said Anderson. “The water came up fast!”
On their way back to shore, the rescuers came across a pair of guys wading through the water with their possessions loaded on a boat. These men then joined Anderson, Watson and the dogs, and the fully-laden rescue vessel made its way to safety.
With no idea who the dogs belonged to or where they came from, the pair decided to hand them over to the experts. Consequently, they took the dogs to an animal shelter worker.
However, the pair’s kindness and compassion appeared to know no bounds. Had the shelter been full, they said they would have been more than happy to take the dogs in themselves and foster them until space became available.
However, the dogs were left in the capable hands of the shelter, and the pair headed out to continue their rescue missions. So far, in fact, they have helped more 100 humans and animals escape the flood.
“Out of all the people we’ve rescued, 30 percent or so have had pets,” said Anderson. “The first question they ask is, ‘Can I bring my pet?’ And our answer is always, ‘Absolutely!’”
Anderson and Watson’s selflessness and determination has been a hit online too. Indeed, one video of the rescue has so far been viewed more than 420,000 times on Facebook, while another notched up more than 350,000 views.
As well as being picked up by online news outlets within the United States, the story of the rescuers’ efforts has gone global. Of course, it’s not hard to see why it captured the hearts of the public.
After all, the floods that have hit Louisiana have been record breaking. The Amite River, for example, peaked at a height of 46.2 feet at Denham Springs close to Baton Rouge. Previously, the highest water level recorded here had been 41.5 feet in 1983.
The unprecedented flooding was down to the amount of rain that hit Louisiana during August. In two days alone, for example, 21.86 inches of rain fell on the town of Livingston. And with tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes, the fallout from the floods began immediately.
Consequently, a number of major charities, including the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, were swiftly on the ground to help with the aftermath of the floods. They all asked the public to donate what they could toward the relief effort. After all, we can’t all be heroic rescuers like Anderson and Watson, but we can all do our bit.