Goodbye Flo! We’re finally getting our heads and properties back together after being harassed for a week by a hurricane that was moving slower than most of us could walk.

The good news is that our turtles and our hospital came through unscathed. The building is steel frame with a metal roof and held up beautifully. And kudos to three of our staff who stayed on site throughout the hurricane and aftermath to make sure that our critters were cared for. Jean (our Director,) Terry Meyer (Beach Coordinator/Business Manager) and Peggy LeClair (long-time hospital volunteer) moved in with their hurricane survival kits and literally slept with the turtles for over a week, most of that time in the dark.

Anytime the power goes off running the place becomes quite a challenge. Even a blip can cause our high maintenance water system to shut down, and then take hours to bring back on line. Flo shut the system down for days, which meant days to bring it back up. With no running water to constantly refresh their tanks our patients went without the one thing they look forward to every morning – breakfast. But since we’re famous in the turtle world for our “fat Beasley turtles” they had plenty of reserves to tide them over for a week or so.

Most of our turtles had already been moved into the big house, Sea Turtle Bay which is their last stop before release. But there are still two patients that require a lot of hands-on care; Maverick and Mighty Mouse. Tiny Mighty Mouse had just come out of surgery when Dr. Harms was on site right before the hurricane. She has been critical since the day she came in last year as a cold stun but is one of the toughest little critters we have ever seen at the hospital. This gal clearly wants to live and we are doing everything we can to make sure that happens. Maverick has bone disease in his front flippers which seems to adversely affect his appetite so feeding him can take an hour or more but protein is critical to his recovery. Jean, Peggy and Terry were the ICU nurses that kept these two turtles going.

As the curfews lifted, the power came back and Flo finally moved off the coast our staff trickled back into town and those who were able to do so headed in to resume what we love doing – taking care of our turtles. A big shout out to local power company JOEMC for getting out there as soon as safely possible to restore power to our hospital. You guys are awesome!

Due to the disruption caused by the hurricane please check our Facebook page or website for the date we will resume our public tours. We’re working hard to make that happen as soon as possible. When we reopen it will be on our fall schedule/hours of two days a week, Thursdays and Saturdays from 1 - 4 p.m. This column also goes on a fall/winter schedule going forward will be published every other week until spring.

 

Karen Sota is the volunteer media coordinator for the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach.