Despite Weekend Storms, East Coast Practices Still Trying to Recover from Hurricane Irene

by Jack Sommars

You don’t need to be a meteorologist to know it is hurricane season. Tropical storm Lee drenched a large swath of the nation this weekend and two more hurricanes are swirling in the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, many practices on the Eastern Seaboard are still trying to recover from Hurricane Irene.

John Beres, DVM, owner of the East Shore Animal Hospital in Branford, Conn., reports, "I don’t know of many veterinary hospitals that were affected by the flooding. For most, it was a power outage issue."

Beres lost power for three days when the storm struck on Aug. 28.

"Being an AAHA hospital, we had a disaster preparedness plan. But the one thing I learned from this experience is it’s hard to plan for everything.

"We were probably more prepared for a tree falling on the building or being flooded. Just having a simple loss of electricity doesn’t seem all that complicated until you’re without it for several days."

Beres brought in a small generator he had at home and used it to power his phones and computers.

His team saw appointments on Monday and Tuesday either in the sunlight or by a window. They also used flashlights to keep watch on 16 dogs they were boarding in an outside kennel.

After running out of flashlight batteries, Beres had to order a shipment via since none were available locally.

"We were fortunate here because a major referral and emergency hospital in New Haven didn’t lose their power and many veterinarians were able to send cases to them. If they had gone down, it would have been disastrous."

What advice does Beres have for other practitioners now that hurricane season is upon us?

"At a bare minimum, you should have a portable generator to power your communications," he says. "You should also network with other veterinarians in your area. Because if you need help, get into trouble or need to transfer cases, you can draw upon the relationships you’ve built. Somebody is bound to have the power or resources you need."

For example, Beres’ one-and-a-half doctor practice performed X-rays for Guilford Veterinary Hospital, an AAHA-accredited hospital located eight miles down the highway. Their eight doctor practice was without power for a week.