NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches County Texas A&M AgriLife agent is on standby to relieve an Agriculture Strike Team in Brazoria County.
Animal and livestock shelters are nothing new to Ricky Thompson.
The rescuer in Hurricane Ike explained to how disasters often lead to statewide deployments.
The images conjure up the Old West, but this cattle drive was last week following extensive flooding in southeast Texas.
"It can be something that you never want to go through," Thompson said.
Nacogdoches County Agent Ricky Thompson speaks from Hurricane Ike experience. In 2008, he was an agent in in Winnie, Texas. Hundreds of images of livestock rescues are stored in Thompson's computer, but they're in his mind forever.
"It's probably one of the most devastating things I've ever seen," Thompson said.
That first statewide effort was trial and error. Today, deployed certified Ag Strike Teams, including veterinary emergency teams with triage services, come to the aide of lost and scared livestock.
"On June 5, AgriLife deployed some strike teams to go down to Brazoria County to help stand up a pod for rescue of livestock animals," Thompson said.
As in any natural disaster, county agents statewide are called to help federal, state, and local agencies in supervising livestock shelters. Thompson got his call this week.
"As of right now I've been put on standby to have to possibly relieve some of those agents that are down there as well," Thompson said.
The mission is to capture and care for loose livestock. In addition, the agents provide encouragement to ranchers.
"You have to go in there and try to save and salvage as much as possible and then give those people some sense of relief that somebody is out there and somebody is actually out there to help them, and they're not alone," Thompson said.
Hardship is when ranching communities develop their strongest bonds with neighbors and faraway strangers showing up to give a helping hand.
Thompson says any natural disaster from floods to wildfires can happen in East Texas.
He strongly advises livestock owners to tag, brand, or tattoo their animals.
It increases their chances of being returned to their rightful owners.