FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – They’re some of the smallest victims of Hurricane Irma.
Countless animals lost their homes or nests when the powerful storm blew through.
“After the storm we got in over 60 squirrels, just babies,” said Deanna Duskin with the South Florida Wildlife Center. “That sounds very exhausting and tiring, but when you love what you do there’s really no limit on the amount that you can care for.”
And they certainly are stretched to the limit. The storm brought scores of furry and feathered animals to the South Florida Wildlife Center.
“The week before the hurricane we had 100 patients, the week after the hurricane we had 250,” said Dr. Antonia Gardner, medical director of the wildlife center. “They kind of came flooding in. One day we had 70 animals, which is a very, very high patient load day for us.”
Congressman Ted Deutch got wind of the volume of animals moving through the cetner and stopped to see for himself.
“This is the highest volume wildlife triage in the country,” Rep Deutch said. “The number of animals that come thru here for help is incredible.”
Now the center is seeing animals it rarely sees — like a Brown Booby that normally never makes it to land — but when Irma swirled through it was pushed ashore and brought to the center.
The same can be said about a Brown Noddy at the center. It survived the storm — but was left weak and with a broken wing.
Now both birds are in rehab — the goal now is to make their feathers waterproof again. If not, they won’t survive in the wild.
“He’ll be weighed down by the weight of the water, he won’t be able to float properly,” said Dr. Gardner “He won’t be able to take off from the water. So waterproofing is probably the most important aspect of his rehabilitation.
Aside from helping all those injured animals the South Florida Wildlife center itself, the structure suffered a lot of damage.
We’re talking about $300,000 worth of damage and loss, with things like food that was destroyed because of no refrigeration because of no power.
For those who would like to help and make a donation, head over to www.SouthFloridaWildlifeCenter.org.