By Eve Rosen
After the rainstorms that have occurred over the past month, Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary on Carol Street in the Santa Rosa Groves area of western Loxahatchee has found itself under as much as five feet of water, which put the animals and buildings at risk.
Barky Pines houses all different types of animals, including dogs, cats, ducks, chickens, geese and a turkey named Tom. The nonprofit takes in sick, elderly and unwanted animals. Many come from shelters like Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control, where they are at risk of being put to sleep.
Elizabeth Accomando and her husband run the organization together and have been through flood situations several times previous to this, most recently with Hurricane Irma last year.
So far, Accomando and her husband have evacuated dozens of animals from the sanctuary, because the water continues to rise with the more rain South Florida endures. Barky Pines is surrounded by areas that have flood control, yet the sanctuary itself has no external flood control of its own.
“We had to evacuate 70 animals, I have dogs and farm animals from Boca Raton to Okeechobee right now, and my sister is in town with a bunch of them,” Accomando said. “People have been coming home to foster and adopt dogs, which is a huge blessing, because I can’t bring anyone back here anytime soon.”
A new hope has arisen for the sanctuary in the form of an anonymous benefactor, who has hired the Acreage-based D&S Site Developing LLC in order to raise the sanctuary’s property and to help prevent future flooding.
“Thankfully, we have the developer,” Accomando said. “Somebody hired them, and we have no idea who it is; they’re anonymous. They are coming in, hopefully, as soon as we get the water out of here, which we are still trying to figure out how to do.”
Accomando has already had to move some of her structures a few hundred feet in order to avoid those buildings being flooded. The pond in the back of the land has become so flooded that one would not be able to tell where the pond ends and the flood water begins.
Barky Pines is no longer the only group raising their voices about the lack of flood control in the area. Houses and buildings on the west side have been raising their voices alongside Accomando’s to get some sort of external flood control.
Barky Pines hopes to replace a damaged culvert that they have been trying to get fixed since September of last year.
“We flooded in June, and we had engineers come in, and we did all this stuff to drain out to the culvert, and we just kept flooding and flooding, and the canal wasn’t going down,” she recalled. “Before Irma, there was a guy we hired to clean out some ditches around here, and when he went out to clean the culvert, that’s when we found out that the culvert was gone.”
Several businesses have come through in order to help the nonprofit’s recovery. Pet Supermarket has a donation bin outside every store in Palm Beach County, and Red Barn has donated a gift card in order to help them replace the hundreds of pounds of dog food that was lost when a storage container flooded.
There will be a fundraiser for Barky Pines at Red Barn (12948 Okeechobee Blvd, Loxahatchee Groves) on Saturday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Accomando and her husband are very grateful to all the people who have helped out, especially their anonymous benefactor.
When the water goes down, hopefully over the next week, Accomando plans to attempt to move some of the buildings that were destroyed up to the front area so that the material can be collected and removed. Volunteers would be welcomed and appreciated.
For more information about how to help Barky Pines, call (561) 402-1451 or find them on Facebook.