VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - Hurricane Nate took a toll on the coast's infrastructure and beaches. It also took a toll on something else; wild animals. Efforts are underway to save as many of those animals as possible that were hurt by the storm.
Wild at Heart Rescue in Vancleave is packed with animals today. The phone has been ringing off the hook.
"We had about 220 calls yesterday. And we admitted about 70 of those at different locations. So we've been extremely busy," Wild at Heart Director Missy Dubuisson explained.
Dubuisson added that following a big storm, this is not unusual.
"When we get these strong winds and rain, these animals are just totally weather beaten and exhausted. They have hypoglycemia, hypothermia, and we have to act fast to save them."
Many of the animals, including birds and squirrels, fall great distances. Others, like infant opossums and baby turtles, nearly drown. That's according to Kimberly Gaspar, a volunteer.
"A lot of them have their hips or legs hurt. A lot of them are scared and shocked. Most are probably just hungry and scared," said Gaspar.
That hunger is alleviated with the help of careful and delicate tube feedings for many of the animals. Much of the work is done by volunteers, like Kimberly's daughter, Cydney Gaspar.
"I like animals a lot, and I like helping them. So, I just come out here and feed them, help take care of them," said Cydney.
Gaspar said when the animals arrive in a near death state, a protocol is followed by the handlers.
"Lots of warmth and care and food. We bring them in and assess them, and we try and keep them warm and safe first. Then, after a few more hours, we'll feed them and make sure they're OK," said Gaspar.
When the work is done, the volunteers head for home with a special feeling in their hearts, including Cydney.
"I feel like a better person because I was able to save another life," said Cydney.
Because of the influx of animals, Wild at Heart is in desperate need of volunteers, supplies, and monetary donations. If you can help, just call or text this number: 228-669-7907.