The threats to life and property in California brought on by the latest round of dangerous weather have been staggering. Since late December, the death toll from a line of storms has been ever-growing, with at least 18 storm-related deaths reported.
The threats extend to animals in the state as well. The Sacramento Zoo, for example, was forced to close early in the week to clean up storm damage, which included downed tree limbs that littered the facility. All animals were deemed safe by staffers.
On a local level, the risk posed to animals at rescue shelters was also high, especially in storm-ridden Monterey County. At Little Hill Sanctuary, animal caretaker Helbard Alkhassadeh and his wife have been working relentlessly to keep more than 100 rescued animals safe and sound, as the intense storms knocked down trees and branches around them.
The continuous rainfall has proven to be a challenge to keep up with.
“We moved the animals to their new shelter and winter homes, and [the rain] just kept coming,” Alkhassadeh told AccuWeather National Reporter Jillian Angeline. “We have to move 100-pound bales of hay by hand,” he said. “We can’t use anything with wheels, and the mud is 7 to 12 inches deep in some areas.”
The sanctuary’s feed supply was heavily impacted, and the electric-powered water pump on the grounds has been affected by power outages in the area. Little Hill has asked for solar generators, as well as animal feed, via an online wish list to aid in recovery from the storms.
Herd and Flock Animal Sanctuary in Vacaville, located between San Fransisco and Sacramento, has also struggled to keep animals safe and dry.
Co-Founder Meghan Dibble told Angeline that the amount of mud in the area has made it impossible to truck in supplies to the sanctuary, forcing an on-foot delivery. Dibble, along with her wife, hopes the supplies can divert excess water away from their facility.
“We’ve laid out a little bit of plywood here and there in the worst parts,” she said, adding that sandbags have been brought in as well for water diversion.
AccuWeather forecasters warn that another pair of storms will pound California in the coming days, renewing the risks of flooding and landslides that Dibble says are “keeping (her) up at night.” If the pattern continues, places like Little Hill and Herd and Flock may cease to exist in Northern California.
“We don’t think it’s realistic to run an animal rescue in this part of California if this is how the weather is gonna be, and we keep seeing it year after year now,” Alkhassadeh said.
Reporting by AccuWeather’s Jillian Angeline.
Produced in association with AccuWeather.