Florence water race through Fayetteville, NC
Jeff Flock reports from a neighborhood under water and without power.
When Hurricane Florence set his sights on the Carolina coast last week, Tony Alsup decided that it was time for him to head out in the storm zone to help clear out the shelters in his path.
The 51-year-old trucker from Tennessee has transformed into an old school bus into an animal transport on wheels, with the words “EMERGENCY ANIMAL RESCUE SHELTER” on the side. In his first trip to South Carolina, Alsup was able to rescue 53 dogs and 11 cats, the Greenville News reported.
“I think it’s great,” he told The Greenville News. “People who don’t believe me, they say it must be crazy to bark. But no. They know that I am the Alpha dog and I’m not here to hurt them.”
In photos posted on Facebook, the group of dogs could be seen in kennels stacked to the roof hang in the back of the school bus in anticipation of their next stop.
Alsup also took a selfie with the bus full of kennels, writing “LET’S ROLL!!!”
“It’s all true – Tony to 4 hours Wednesday morning to pick up our ‘leftovers’ – the dogs with blocky heads, that with heartworm. Those who no one else will ever make. And he sent them to safety,” St. Frances Animal Center in Georgetown, S. C., said in a Facebook post. ‘Not the most conventional evacuation, but certainly the one with the biggest heart.
WEAKENED FLORENCE REMAINS DANGEROUS AS IT WORKS ITS WAY UP TO THE NORTH
After picking up the animals in four South Carolina cities, towns, Alsup transported the group to a shelter in Alabama, where they will be dispersed to other shelters around the country and hopefully be adopted.
“It is so easy for people to take the little pets and the cuties and the hugs,” he told the paper. “We take on the ones that deserve a chance, even though they are big and a bit ugly. But I love big dogs, and we find places for them.”
ANIMALS SAVED OF FLORENCE WATER, AFTER PETS LEFT BEHIND OR FORGOTTEN
The 51-year-old has been involved in large-scale animal rescues with his bus since last year, when Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas with water and during the Hurricane Irma. He felt compelled to help after seeing how shelters are crowded with lost or rescued animals.
“I thought, well, what can I do?” he said to the Washington Post. “I’m going to buy a bus.”
After his trip to South Carolina, since then he has walked back into the storm zone. In a series of videos posted on Facebook, Alsup said that he was on his way to the Lumberton area of North Carolina, where a dam may collapse after overtopped by floodwaters spawned by Florence.
“Pray for those people in Lumberton that that the dam did not collapse, but we try to keep people and pets out of the way before this thing breaks,” he said. “It is better to prevent than to heal. Don’t be someone who thinks it is better to be lucky than secure, out of the way to go.”
Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed