The impact of the polar vortex on the US has been brutal, with ice and snow, plus tornadoes in the south. But amid all this, there are some amazing stories of wonderful people helping animals survive Mother Nature.
Historically low temperatures are expected to remain throughout the United States for days, with more than 71 percent of the US covered by snow, according to the National Weather Service. This is not only a threat to human life – but animal life as well.
A note about animal rescues…
Before you read the following stories of incredible, thoughtful, good Samaritans who are saving animal lives, remember that a lot of the organizations involved in this important work are doing so with limited resources. Especially at this time of extreme weather across the US, if you can, donate to charities in your area or anywhere across the country who do animal rescue work and care so they can continue this vital effort.
Volunteers in Texas save thousands of turtles from the storm
During cold weather, anytime the water temperatures drop below 50 degrees, sea turtles are affected by a condition known as a “cold stunned.” While the turtles remain awake, they lose the ability to move. This can lead to death by injury, stranding or drowning. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, there are five species of sea turtles found in Texas, which are all considered either threatened or endangered.
In coastal Texas, volunteers have rescued thousands of sea turtles from the frigid waters and shores. Sea Turtle, Inc., a nonprofit education, rehabilitation and conservation organization in South Padre Island, Texas, has taken in nearly 4,500 sea turtles since Sunday, NPR reported. Because most of the region remains without power, volunteers are working to find creative ways to house the reptiles and keep them warm.
Dog sucked out of home in tornado, miraculously survives and returns hours later
On Monday night, in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, Yorkshire Terrier named Penny, warned her owner that something was coming. Then, the owner heard the often-described “train sound” that precedes an oncoming tornado. It only took seconds for the sound to draw nearer, now right outside the house, according to a report by Francis Weller for Live 5 News.
The owner grabbed her son, but didn’t have time to grab her dog.
“When I looked, I didn’t have time,” said dog owner Brittany Memory. “If I had waited a second, me and my son would have been out the back door. I didn’t have time to grab Penny.”
An EF-3 tornado tour through the area, ripping homes off foundations, overturning 18 wheelers. Two miles away, three people were killed and ten were injured.
As the tornado struck Brittany’s home, the ferocious winds sucked her dog, Penny, out of the back of the house.
“It ripped the sheets off my bed. She was just bundled up in it.”
That portion of the house now has a large gaping hole.
“I was terrified, I didn’t think she [Penny] was alive,” Brittany explained. “But I just kept telling my little boy ‘she’s an animal, she’ll be okay, God’s got her. Everything’s going to be all right. We’re safe and everything can be replaced, we can’t.’”
A few hours later… Something miraculous happened. Penny the Yorkshire Terrier had found her way back home.
“She just had a little bit of glass stuck to her,” Brittany said. “And we took her to the vet and everything is okay.”
Cat and kittens covered in snow and ice, rescued just in time
On Thursday, in Indiana, a couple was driving down the road and saw something unusual about a big chunk of snow and ice off to the side, LoveMeow reports. When their headlights struck it, they saw a pair of eyes glow. They turned around and went back to investigate. Covered in a layer of snow and ice, was a scrawny tortoiseshell cat, curled up in a ball trying to stay warm. The cat was skin and bones except for one thing…The feline appeared to be pregnant. The couple scooped the cat up and took it home. They contacted Catsnip Etc, an all-volunteer cat rescue in Goshen, Indiana, for help.
The volunteers nursed the animal back to health. Two days later, on the morning of Valentine’s Day, the rescued cat gave birth to four healthy kittens.
Deadly impact of the storms on humans
The impact of the polar vortex on Texas has been unprecedented. It has wreaked havoc on the states power grid, with more than a half million customers without electricity, as of this writing, struggling to keep warm in the bitter cold. The power loss has also affected the state’s water systems and residents in various parts of Texas have been instructed to boil their water before consuming. As people struggled to keep warm, at least 300 people and one county alone receive treatment for suspected carbon monoxide cases and a number of people have died, the BBC reported. Deaths attributed to the storm have also occurred in Louisiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and Missouri.