The demolition of what remained of the recently collapsed Champlain Towers South in Miami brought to light another aspect of the tragedy: The pets left behind by those who died, were injured or had to vacate the property without them.
Sarah DeYoung, core faculty with the University of Delaware's Disaster Research Center, is an expert on managing pets during emergencies – what mistakes were made and how to improve on them in the future. She can comment on the situation in Miami, where crews were searching for missing animals.
Recovery of people and animals can be complicated in a disaster like the recent collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Miami because it happened so fast that many people may have had no time at all to evacuate with animals, DeYoung said.
Many people and animals were trapped beneath the rubble. One of the most emotional aspects of this disaster is that of course there may be animals still alive in the collapse area but it may be difficult to rescue them without putting responders at risk, she said. In other disasters, distraught residents have attempted any means necessary to rescue their animals.
"I can only imagine how survivors feel now if their animals did not make it out of the condo collapse. Based on my research fieldwork, there will likely be people who need mental health resources because of this experience – not only with losing neighbors, friends, and family – but also because of losing their animals in this horrible circumstance."
DeYoung is the co-author of the new book "All Creatures Safe and Sound: The Social Landscape of Pets in Disasters."