Rescuers help hundreds of animals impacted by Hurricane Michael

Credit: Gerald Herbert

Credit: Gerald Herbert

Animal rescue groups are on the ground in the devastated Florida Panhandle, trying to help pet rescue organizations impacted by Hurricane Michael.

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The Humane Society of the United States is one of the groups taking part in the effort and has already moved more than 400 shelter animals into new homes across the country.

Some of the pet shelters in the Panhandle were badly damaged by the powerful Category 4 hurricane, which knocked out power and water to many facilities.

Sara Varsa with HSUS said moving animals from damaged shelters allows those shelters to better focus on animal-recovery efforts.

Explore>> Related: Pets rescued from South Georgia Hurricane Michael damage zone need new homes

“Those facilities or those areas then have a lessened burden of unowned animals in care so that they can serve their community needs,” Varsa said.

Parts of the Florida Panhandle were decimated by Michael, which made landfall last Wednesday close to a Category 5 storm with winds of more than 150 mph.

“What I’m hearing back on the ground from our responders is this is like an F5 tornado,” Varsa said. “That’s what this devastation looks like. It’s going to be a long, long time in recovery.”

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Lawmakers are considering a House bill that would require certain licensed animal rescue groups and facilities have a disaster plan in place to keep animals safe after the next hurricane or other major storm strikes.

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