NEWPORT — The scene was hectic Thursday afternoon at the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter, which was filled with injured and orphaned animals that are being cared for by the staff during Hurricane Dorian.
Shelter Director Brooke Breen said workers have and volunteers been bringing animals inside all day and placing them in crates in the main shelter building to prepare for the storm, expected to blow up the East Coast Thursday night into Friday.
“We have most of the animals in and are waiting until the last minute to bring the vultures in because they can be very messy,” Ms. Breen said.
She is no stranger to what a hurricane can do to the facility. OWLS sustained roughly $100,000 in damage in September 2018 during Hurricane Florence. Ms. Breen stayed by herself with the animals at the shelter during that storm.
This year, she has two employees staying with her to care for a variety of wildlife, including baby squirrels and opossums, an injured woodpecker, pelican, ducks, geese, vultures, hawks and education animals like owls.
“It’s baby squirrel season right now, so we each have a group of baby squirrels we will be feeding throughout the storm,” she said.
Ms. Breen said she is preparing for an influx of injured animals bound for the shelter following the storm, as well.
“We will open as soon as we can to accept animals that residents find, but please don’t try to drive in unsafe conditions. Wait until the storm passes and it’s safe,” she said.
If a resident finds an injured animal, Ms. Breen said the best thing to do is use a towel or blanket to catch them. Then place them in a quiet place in a sturdy container, such as a cardboard box or clothes basket. If it’s a baby animal, she said try to provide some heat to keep it warm.
Once it’s safe, bring it to the shelter at 100 Wildlife Way on Highway 24 near Broad Creek.
“We’re going to see some battered birds and lots of baby squirrels,” she said.
Ms. Breen said she was grateful for all the volunteers who helped this week to secure shelter buildings, board windows and other work needed to prepare for the storm.
“We even had one volunteer with a broken leg who waited to evacuate to help us,” she said of volunteer Alex Carrier, who left Thursday to head to Chapel Hill.
She added that the shelter will probably need volunteers following Dorian to help with cleanup. Also, she anticipates a need for food and other supplies. A wish list of shelter needs can be found on the OWLS Facebook page or at outerbankswildlifeshelter.com. There is also a way to donate on the webpage.
For more information, call OWLS, 252-240-1200.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.