Sunshine, electricity and storms fading I am sure are making everyone breathe a sigh of relief. Here at North Georgia Zoo we get especially excited but also overwhelmed to as we evaluate the damage, repairs and crisis still looming on the horizon. So what happens when the water rises, the power goes out and trees threaten to come down on enclosures and buildings? Well before it hits crisis level, zookeepers get the joy of trudging through the mud and rain and making sure all the critters stay dry, warm and comfortable while they are soaked to the bone. No pulling covers over their face or sleeping in and listening to the rain on the roof. These animals rely on them. As they feed, clean and help keep their animals dry, they will also watch for flooded areas, leaks and areas that may need to be evacuated or protected. Once it passes from normal rain to flood concerns evacuation plans are set into motion. Animals start to be moved to higher ground. This is where training is very vital. Animals here at NGZ are trained to crate up ahead of time for such a time as this. Animals start to get moved to higher ground at the zoo into their temporary holding places until the water resides. BUT then what about power outages? Well I am thankful we have an emergency plan in place for this also. I admit we never had to use it in the 20 years of zoo life but this past week we sure did. The zoo lost power for 3 full days and without power there is no running water, no cold freezers or fridges, no access to online documents and records, no hot water to make bottles, no heat lamps for those cold blooded creatures and the list goes on and on. The good news is the zoo is equipped with several generators that are put into the main priority areas. This includes the nursery with all the babies, the reptile house and in this case the freezer house which is not normally a concern but was this time. Typically power outages happen in the winter so we don’t have to worry about losing 1000’s of dollars of food like we did this time. Meanwhile those secondary areas get to do their chores the old fashion way. The 100’s of livestock still need water despite not having water pressure to the hoses. Here is where creativity goes a long way. We put a livestock trough on the back of the work truck and filled it with water from one of the generator powered hoses and hauled this and buckets from pen to pen and bucketed the water in. This was all part of the experience in the beginning but by day 3 this was quickly getting old. Then it happens we get power and we are so excited only to be reminded of the piles of laundry backed up, the cleanup needing to be done, The animals moved back, the repairs needing done. As we start to plunge into the hard work ahead a more serious crisis loomed his ugly face at us. The ground had gotten soft and 2 giant trees attempt to fall onto the nursery building but are blocked by another tree. This one I admit we weren’t nearly as prepared for. Well we thought we were as simply we call our tree guy out but alas he is in the middle of getting a tree off a house. We then call the electrical company (HEMC) because if this tree comes down it will not only take out part of the nursery, a fence, several cages but also a main power line. They are obviously backed up and unable to guarantee when they can get to us. At this point we asked for prayers and community assistance. We realize only a tree professional can handle this type of tree complication as if done poorly , it could do just as much damage as it would falling on its own. We know that Alex is the best in the field as these trees are not easy to take down without losing control and them toppling down the wrong way so we plead with him to come check it out as soon as he can. So what happened next? Well this is where we are waiting and praying. Alex tree service and his crane man will work on getting here as soon as they can. Could be today could be Friday. I do hope this story ends well with Alex saving the day by getting those trees down before they come down but meanwhile we wait. We have already evacuated the nursery and adjoining pens to safety just in case the buffer starts giving way. We hope to update you all with a positive ending but will let you know as soon as we do. We are blessed with the community support we have seen and appreciate everyone’s prayers.