AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF-TV) – Deborah Smith from Daufuskie Island, South Carolina is one of thousands in the Augusta, Georgia area who evacuated from Hurricane Matthew.
But she almost didn’t make it because she couldn’t find a place to house dozens of her furry friends.
“I have a small cat sanctuary and I used to do rescue work in Atlanta. Most of these cats are special needs and weren’t adopted for one reason or another,” said Smith.
Smith later moved to Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, where she continued her work, rescuing animals. Then, came Hurricane Matthew.
“When we realized that the hurricane was headed straight for us, I desperately wanted to get them off the island…but it’s difficult when you have just one or two pets finding a place,” said Smith.
So, imagine how she felt when she had to carry more than two dozen animals to safety.
“It seemed darn near impossible. So, Wednesday morning I got onto Craig’s List and found a wonderful gentleman who had a warehouse unit for rent here. I asked him if I could stay in it. He said,’Yes.’ Then I said, ‘By the way, I have 23 animals with me,’ and he said,’Absolutely,’” said Smith.
She would soon meet up with Property Manager, Michele Meehan.
“We got a call that someone needed shelter for themselves and their animals and we just told them to come on and we would make a place for them,” said Meehan.
Michele says she can relate to Deborah. She,herself, went through a hurricane when she was living in Savannah.
“I know what it is like to live through a hurricane and to run from a hurricane. And when you get the word to pack up and go, that means you get a pillow case, and you put your most prized possessions in it and you leave,” said Meehan.
Deborah’s prized possessions are her animals and she has advice for others who may end up in her shoes one day.
“In times of natural disasters, take your pets with you. You may only think you’re going to be gone for a day or two, but it doesn’t always work out like that,” said Smith.
Debra says there’s no telling how many days she’ll be in Augusta because she says the storm just hit her island Saturday morning, destroying her cat refuge.