When Hurricane Florence made landfall last week, it felt like an apocalypse, particularly for those who were affected by it. The massive storm brought powerful winds and heavy rain that devastated everything in its path. But one man from Greenback, TN became the proverbial modern-day Noah, and his ark was none other than a yellow public school bus. After managing to pack a bunch of dogs and cats into his vehicle, he turned the ignition key, put the pedal to the metal, and got the heck out of dodge. But even though he put himself at risk, he’d do it all over again if he had to, and here’s why.
Tony Alsup is a 51-year-old trucker from Greenback, Tennessee, and he had a mission to complete.
He drove to South Carolina after hearing the news that Hurricane Florence was heading there. By the time the storm hit, Florence had been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it was still powerful, and on a direct path towards several animal shelters.
Tony Alsup / Facebook
Using an old yellow school bus, he decided to visit shelters throughout the state of South Carolina.
He stopped by shelters in North Myrtle Beach, Dillon, Georgetown and Orangeburg. And by the time he left, he had loaded up 53 dogs and 11 cats. His first destination was a shelter in Foley, Alabama, where the animals would be safe from Hurricane Florence.
Of course, this wasn’t Alsup’s first time rescuing animals from shelters stuck in the path of a hurricane.
He had hauled animals out of the Hurricane zones in Texas, Florida, and even Puerto Rico before, but his mission began with a misunderstanding. He misread an online plea asking someone to evacuate shelter pets out of the storm’s path. And Alsup volunteered to move the pets using his semi-truck.
The shelter made the assumption that Alsup was going to transfer a bunch of dogs, which wasn’t true.
Alsup only intended to carry a couple in the back of his truck. But he didn’t want to let anyone down, so he spent $3,200 on an old school bus and drove to Texas to save a couple of pets before Hurricane Harvey struck. That was a year ago. And he’s been saving animals ever since.
Things might have gotten a little crowded inside the school bus, but it was better than the alternative.
Animal shelters fill up quickly during hurricane evacuations. In order to avoid overcrowding, some shelters will resort to more drastic measures when dealing with lost or abandoned pets. But Alsup refused to turn his back on these animals in distress.