This week’s hurricane Joaquin has caused flash floods to overwhelm the state of South Carolina. Since Governor Nikki Haley declared a State of Emergency on Thursday October 1st, what has been described as a “historic flood” has ravaged many counties in the state. The deluge has resulted in full submersion of parked vehicles in water, the breaching of nearly 11 dams, and entire streets turned into lakes where houses and white picket fences were made barely visible. In this ghastly scene, unearthed caskets have been seen floating away from graveyards, homes have been looted, streets have collapsed, totaling over billions of dollars in damages.

In the wake of this disaster, in spite of a mandatory evacuation in high-alert areas, there have been at least 17 lives lost either by drowning or car accidents due to the weather. People have been air-lifted by helicopter from the roofs of their homes, or rescued by boat by National Guardsmen, and brought to shelters where hundreds of families wait to discover the extent of the damage to their property.

Since the clouds finally started clearing on Tuesday October 6th, one of the other distressing dilemmas has been rescuing domestic pets and reuniting them with their owners. Initially during the torrential downpour, pets had been retrieved by rescue teams via boat and rope-towing, though many of these animals are unaccounted for, and without identification.

Volunteer workers from the Humane Society and Animal Control are daily receiving calls from people who have found strays wandering or wading through the water, or others who are inquiring about their missing pets. Emergency responders, rescue volunteers and firefighters have found dogs tied up to posts in yards, or left abandoned in flooded homes. Fortunately their pet recovery work is not in vain; as the aid crews have been able to reunite many animals with their owners, and provide them with health checkups and injury care, etc. Kimberly Kelly, director of the state’s Humane Society, and her team have provided support to local animal shelters affected by the storm, are helping assess their concerns and providing fresh water and supplies to those at the rescue homes.

The community is uniting to help reconnect animals with their pet owners via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, where “The Lost and Found Pets of South Carolina Group” allow people to post pictures of found animals and their whereabouts. Pet owners are hopeful that these measures will help them recover the animals the love, when everything else they have may be lost to the insatiable appetite of hurricane Joaquin.