Emergency Preparedness at American Tortoise Rescue’s Sanctuary
This year, more than 3 million acres have burned in California so far. The threat of another devastating wildfire fire in Malibu looms large. Since moving our American Tortoise Rescue sanctuary to Malibu 23 years ago, we have evacuated the rescue twice. The first time was in 2008. We were very lucky. The fire did not reach our home and sanctuary, though the flames were visible.
The second time was the devastating Woolsey Fire in early November 2018, which burned almost 100,000 acres, killed three people and burned down hundreds of homes, including ours. We also lost our turtle hospital, though we evacuated the 50 patients and undersized rescues. Because so many of our rescue tortoises and turtles were hibernating, they were able to stay in the sanctuary, housed safely in fireproof housing that Marshall built many years ago. The volunteer angels who helped us in the past, were overwhelmed and couldn’t get their trailers into the area. The hospital is being rebuilt better than ever, but that leaves evacuation needs and fire protection still unfunded.
The prediction is that wildfires will to get worse every year, so we are stepping up our emergency preparations and evacuation protocol. In addition to human support, we need equipment and other items outlined below. If you know car dealers or people who would like to donate a pre-owned pickup or two-horse trailer, let us know. We offer a nonprofit tax-donation and publicity as a thank you.
The Malibu City Council provided us with a $500 grant to start this process. Malibu neighbors, Diane and Barry Woods, donated an additional $1500. Similarly, these two wonderful people have offered a matching grant if we can raise $5000 more.
Here's what our emergency preparedness plan includes:
1) Institute emergency drills.
2) Purchase and practice attaching a two-horse trailer to a truck and loading it with animals.
3) Purchase and practice loading large animals with an electric or hand lift into a trailer.
4) Identify veterinary offices out of the fire area to medicate, treat and/or house any sick rescue residents.
5) Purchase a water tank with fire hoses, pumps and pressure nozzles backed up by emergency generators.
6) Initiate closer contact with the LA County Fire Department and Malibu City Council.
7) Seek out local and neighborhood volunteers, as well as retired firefighters, to help with potential evacuation situations.
Please help if you can, any way you can. We cannot do this without you.
With much love and gratitude, Susan and Marshall