The phone rang a few minutes after eleven at night. My wife, Mary, answered. She yelled “it’s Bob, turn on channel 28”. I turned on the television and tuned to WBRE-TV 28. A reporter was interviewing EMA director Jim Siracuse, who said they expected the river to reach 36 feet. The levees are between 37 and 39 feet and he said he was going to be too close to call. The Lucerne County Emergency Management Agency ordered a preemptive evacuation for the entire valley. At seven in the morning it was mandatory.

Already seen. We live just a few blocks from the Susquehanna River in Forty Fort Pennsylvania. On June 22, 1972, the river overran the levees and flooded the entire valley to a level of nearly 40.6 feet. At that time we had two Giant Schnauzers, Ch. Camoli’s Gem of the East and Ch. von Russ Brinny Brite, a mother-daughter pair. We had very little notice that time. I asked Marie to drop me off at my office a few blocks away to move some files to the second floor and pick up the State Car that was parked there. I got back to my house and was putting the dog’s stuff in my personal car when the sirens started wailing. Until you experience the sound of sirens and know that it means that the river has broken over the levee or the levees have broken and the river is flowing through, you cannot realize what a terrifying sound it is. When I was leaving the house with Gemma, the water was coming down the street. Marie had left a few minutes earlier, taking Pazazz with her in the other car. We were going to meet at a friend’s house outside the floodplain. We had brought some clothes and enough food and water for the dogs for a few days. Little did we know that we would have almost fourteen feet of water at our house and be out of our house for weeks.

This time, as soon as I heard the words “EVACUATION” I said to Marie “pack the clothes and I’ll take care of the dog’s things”. I immediately thought that the next thing they would announce would be a water advisory, that would mean the water was not fit to drink. I got out my water containers for the Giant Schnauzer we have, Ch. von Russ Follie Berger’ and collected enough water for a week (15 gallons). I also put a week’s worth of food in a metal container along with his meds, a feeding dish, and a bowl of water.

The phone lines up and this time it was our friend Anna Cervenak. She and Max Bartikowsky have a Beagle, Sparkle. She said that they were going to stay at the Victoria Inn and that they would meet us there. I called the Victoria Inn but found that while I had been packing clothes and dog supplies in my Maxi Van, others had been calling to make reservations. No rooms available. I then called Knights Inn as I knew from traveling the dog show circuit that they are pet friendly. There are no rooms available until noon on Saturday. I made reservations for two rooms. One for us and one for our friend Bob Adams who has a Cairn Terrier, Darcy. It was already close to midnight on Friday, January 19, 1996.

Due to our experience showing Giant Schnauzers for over twenty five years, we are used to packing the necessities of our dogs and ourselves. We have left home in the wee hours of the morning many times to go to dog shows. My wife, Marie, has a packing list for us and the dogs. The list came out that night, only there were no Best of Breed or Group Placements to be won, this was a do or die situation. We had everything to lose if the river overflowed the levees. We had dumped everything we had on the street to be hauled away after the “72” flood and it looked like we were going to be in the same situation again.

The phone range again. It was Bob. Like many dog ​​show people, he has two vehicles, a passenger car and a van for the dog. Bob needed to move one of the vehicles to high ground. He said that he would go right away with my car to follow him and take him back. It was now around half past one in the morning.

Marie had the TV on during all of this and when I came back from Bob’s, she said that they had informed the public that the locations of the evacuation centers were going to be announced and that they were not going to accept pets in the centers. This meant that one hundred thousand people were going to have to leave their homes. What were they going to do with their pets? We have crates in our vehicles for our dogs, but most pet owners only have a collar and walking leash for their pet. What were they going to do?

People who live on a flood plain or near the ocean and are in the path of a hurricane should have an evacuation plan that includes their pets. The first thing to consider is a pet carrier or crate that will fit in your vehicle. Even if you end up in a motel, you can keep your dog in the crate or crate if he’s a cat. You need something secure to keep the animal inside when you can’t be with it constantly. This also means training the pet to enjoy being in the crate!

The next thing is to take food for at least several days. A metal or plastic container is best as it will keep the food dry and is easy to transport and store when you arrive somewhere to stay. Water for your pet is easily carried in two-liter plastic soda bottles. TAKE ENOUGH FOR AT LEAST FOUR DAYS. Label containers “DOG FOOD”, “DOG WATER”. Water from a different source could upset your digestive system and give you more diarrhea problems. Be sure to bring all the necessary medications for your pet.

Heartworm medication should not be forgotten as it needs to be administered daily unless you have your pet on the monthly medication. Another factor that is important is that your pet is used to traveling in your vehicle. Many pets can only travel in their vehicle when they need to be taken to the vets. This is a somewhat traumatic experience for the animal and if the only time they can travel with you is to the vet, it won’t make your evacuation journey any easier with a dog that is upset and possibly vomiting. Another safety factor that we practice is to never leave the collar on your pet when it is in the cage. The animal could become excited due to the situations you could be exposed to and the collar could get caught in the cage and the dog could choke. We always hook the collar and take it to the door of the crate so that it is always accessible when we want to take the animal out of the crate.

If it is absolutely impossible to take your pet with you, placing the animal in the highest room in the house is the next best option. Do not tie the animal to anything, let it loose. Choose a room that has a secure door. Place the papers in a corner of the room. Put at least a two day’s supply in a large dish like a toaster and be sure to provide plenty of water in containers that cannot be easily emptied. The animal can go a few days without eating, but water is very necessary. If it is during the winter, provide several blankets for the animal to lie on and keep warm because the electricity has to be cut off and there will be no heating in the house. Place something in front of the windows in the room to prevent the possibility of the animal jumping at the window and breaking it in an attempt to escape. You can clean up any mess when you get back home, hopefully in a few days.

Another factor to take into account is in case of fire. There are stickers available that you can affix to your doors that tell the firefighter that you have a pet inside and also indicate what kind and how many. Your fire escape plan should include your pets and what you can do with them once he’s out of the house.

WBRE-TV informed people who had to evacuate that there was a lady in Clark Summit, a town about twenty-five miles away, who had a large heated horse stable and was making it available to pets, but they had to be in cages. Additionally, some of the kennels outside of the flooded area still had vacancies.

We decided to leave our house around 2:30 am and cross the river to the Knights Inn area before the bridges closed. They had closed the bridges early during the “72” flood. Marie and Bob followed me, and I headed to a late-night restaurant around 3:00 am. I have a small TV that plays my truck’s battery. I brought this so that we could stay informed on developments regarding the river.

During Friday afternoon, the temperature had reached 60 degrees. At 3:00 am the temperature was 17 degrees and the wind chill dropped to 12 degrees. Bob and I had our dogs in our vehicles and that meant we had to keep getting out in the vehicles and running the engine to keep it warm for the dogs. I have a curtain in my van that hangs just behind the dog crate to help keep the heat in at the front of the maxi van. I was able to keep the temperature at about 68 degrees overnight. At dawn we went to the Victoria Inn to stay with Max and Anna until we could check into the Knights Inn.

We sat there to watch TV. Remember during the Gulf War how you could watch the war from your living room. Well, due to the coverage of the local TV stations, we were able to see the scenes of the flooding as it happened. Some of the scenes were very graphic and scary. There was a scene in which a fireman waded into waist-deep water to rescue a dog that had been tied to his kennel by the river. Another scene showed a National Guard officer carrying a Golden Retriever from floodwaters. The dog licked his face. There were other stories of abandoned and drowned pets. Not everyone had prepared to take their pet with them.

The river reached the height of 34.38 feet around 5:00 pm on Saturday. We were able to return to our house the next day. Our dogs were safe and healthy because we had the experience of traveling with them and being ready to carry the things they needed to keep them safe and healthy. They had acted like they were going to a dog show, thanks to their experience in dog shows.