Lisa First and her husband live in Galveston County, Texas. When word came that Hurricane Harvey was going to cause massive devastation to their area, many of their friends and neighbors evacuated. But for the Firsts, that was not an option. The couple are animal rescuers and foster pawrents with an ever-rotating cast of pups in their home. At the time of Harvey’s arrival, they were caring for an impressive brood of 14 rescue dogs!
“They are all Houston street dogs and each of them has a story,” First told The Dodo. “They are a very special bunch of misfits that are always welcoming foster dogs into their home. We have a lot of fun every day.”
Despite the obvious perils of remaining in the path of the storm and the resulting catastrophic flooding, the Firsts refused to leave their dogs behind. Finding lodging that accepts one or two pets is difficult enough, locating accommodations for the whole family would have been next to impossible.
Instead, the couple stocked up on supplies and battened down to face the elements.
“I could not think of being separated from my dogs. We had to do whatever it took to survive here,” Lisa said. “I don’t think of my pets as disposable — my pets are part of me. My entire life revolves around them.”
The couple lovingly refers to the constant state of doggy disarray in their home as “Camp Chaos,” but Harvey added a whole new level of madness!
The wind and rain arrived on Friday, August 25. By 2 AM on Sunday, the Firsts’ street was entirely underwater. The flooding infiltrated their home, leaving them to huddle together on the beds and table tops – the only dry surfaces.
A trip into the backyard required a kayak or a strong doggy paddle, so the Firsts created an indoor potty area using lots and lots of puppy pads!
For three days, the family was trapped inside their water-logged home, except for occasional trips into the “pond” that was once their yard!
Luckily, the kindness and goodwill of their community helped sustain them. Neighbors in less flooded areas waded through the chest-deep waters to bring them hot meals and casseroles – something the Firsts deeply appreciated. Supporters even purchased brand new beds for the dogs after theirs were ruined by floodwaters!
The terrifying weather and changes to their routine were stressful for the dogs, but the First family made it through together!
Despite the damage to their home and belongings, the couple is incredibly grateful for the health and safety of their friends, family, and of course, their dogs. The process of salvaging their home and community has just begun, but the Firsts have learned an important lesson – the residents of Camp Chaos are survivors!
H/T to The Dodo
Featured Images via Facebook/Pinto