A flock of birds stranded at a Florida compound following Hurricane Ian’s devastation were rescued on Tuesday (October 4) as part of a mission dubbed “Operation Noah’s Ark,” the Associated Press reports.
Will Peratino and his partner, Lauren Stepp, refused to evacuate their Pine Island compound without their 275 parrots and two lemurs, despite authorities advising residents to do so following damaged roads leading to shortages on deliveries of food, gas and other necessities.
“We would not abandon them. I would never leave them. Never,” Stepp told the AP as volunteers worked toward collecting the flock from coops at the Malma Manu Sanctuary on Tuesday. “If they cannot be fed or watered, they will die. And I can’t live with that.”
The birds were relying on food donated by wildlife officials prior to Hurricane Ian making its way through Florida last week, however, a downed bridge nearby the sanctuary and a scarcity of gasoline on the island made finding food more difficult as supplies decreased.
The rescue efforts come amid widespread damage throughout the state of Florida.
On Tuesday, Sanibel Island, one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Ian, was reported to be cut off from the Florida peninsula, which has resulted in a heavy presence of alligators and snakes, as rescue efforts continue.
“There are a lot places that are not livable. There are places off their foundation, and it’s very dangerous out there,” Sanibel Fire Chief William Briscoe said via CNN. “There are alligators running around, and there are snakes all over the place.”
Briscoe said 1,000 people have been evacuated from Sanibel since Hurricane Ian made its way through Florida last week.
At least 109 people have died in relation to Hurricane Ian, which includes 105 in Florida and 55 in Lee County, according to CNN.
The devastation brought on by Hurricane Ian has led to the largest ever search-and-rescue effort launched by the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
“We pre-positioned the largest amount of search-and-rescue assets that I think we’ve ever put in place before,” FEMA chief Deanne Criswell told FOX News Sunday.
Recovery efforts are ongoing in Florida and the Carolinas after the hurricane left a path of destruction throughout the week.
PowerOutage.us reports 320,715 Florida residents were still without power as of Wednesday (October 5) morning.
President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Florida after Ian made landfall on Wednesday afternoon and ordered federal aid to help in state and local recovery efforts in areas directly affected, the White House confirmed in a statement obtained by NBC News.
Ian made landfall last Wednesday (September 28) near Cayo Costa as a Category 4 hurricane with winds reaching up to 150 MPH, making it one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in Florida, according to NBC News forecasters.
Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm on Thursday (September 29) before strengthening back into a hurricane prior to making landfall in South Carolina on Friday (September 30).