Thursday, September 8, 2011

In burning Texas county, a collection spot for displaced animals

The wildfire relief effort and national media presence at the Bastrop Convention and Exhibit Center look very much like those I've seen at other natural disasters.

Volunteers directing cars and people, truckloads of bottled water arriving like clockwork, residents poring over message boards for scarce nuggets of information, and a parking lot full of television trucks make this scene feel much like those during other wildfires and even recent tornadoes.

But 15 miles up the road, in Elgin, Texas, you'll find a decidedly Texas scene behind the Elgin VFW, where the Texas Lost Pines Riding Club rodeo arena has been converted into a triage center for horses, donkeys, mules, cows, goats, chickens, rabbits, geese and other animals that have been evacuated from the path of the deadly fire.

There's no pavement in the arena parking lot. A dry and dusty gravel road leads into the property, and the few journalists who are here parked their trucks in the grass. Pickup trucks roll in every few minutes – some with horse trailers, others with bails of hay.

The animals are off-loaded from trailers, placed into pens constructed with donated fence panels, documented and eventually sent to nearby areas that can house them until the danger passes. more