Storms Leave Behind Wildlife, Pollution and Debris

As Hurricane Irene whipped through my Northeast town, leaving my home flooded and without power, I wondered what else such a massive storm would leave behind. Within just a few days, it became evident the storm left more than just my inability to meet my Care2 posting deadline and the flood in my basement. In its wake, Hurricane Irene left wildlife dislocated, pollution and a big mess.

Here’s What Hurricanes Leave Behind:


An article by Kevin Coyle, for the National Wildlife Foundation, discusses how wind dislocation from hurricanes force birds from their habitat. Storms of this magnitude also strip trees of food that supply animals, and storm surges dislocate turtles and kill fish.

“The forces of hurricanes, such as Irene, are so immense that they deserve tremendous respect. Following a storm, birders and wildlife enthusiasts can help by keeping their eyes peeled for unusual or rare species that turn up. It is useful for wildlife agencies to hear about rare appearances. Wildlife rescue organizations should be contacted if someone sees a creature that was injured in a storm. It’s always recommended to avoid trying to handle an injured animal on your own unless you have had specific training. If you usually feed birds at your home, the post storm calm is a good time to fill up those feeders. Your pals will probably be hungry and tired after waiting out the storm.”


Heavy rainfall upstream washes soil, sediment and many pollutants into the environment, leaving both humans and animals at risk of contamination. In a post, Hurricanes Blow In Air Pollution for Moms Clean Air Force, I outline some of the hazards caused by storm pollution:

According to Discovery News, a team of researchers monitored the number of particles floating in the air when storms begin to form. They found the dust and grit a storm leaves behind can be troublesome when inhaled. These particles can lodge deep in people’s lungs, causing coughing, wheezing, or triggering asthma attacks. Children are highly susceptible to such particles since their bodies are small and they breathe deeply. Asthma is a chronic disorder that already affects an estimated 7.1 million children under the age of 18.”

Storm Debris

Here are recycling solutions for five common types of storm debris from Earth911:

1.Trees – Downed tree branches are easy to recycle. If your area offers curbside collection for yard waste, you can toss tree limbs and uprooted plants into the bin. Yard waste can also become fuel for your compost pile.

2. If your yard is littered with shingles and other roofing materials, From Roofs to Roads is an EPA program working with recyclers all over the country to use old roofing shingles to make asphalt for road construction.

3. Aluminum siding – Shutters, aluminum siding and other external fixtures are often used by nonprofit building organizations such as: Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

4. Patio furniture – Donate it to a local Goodwill or Salvation Army for reuse, or put it out on your curb with a “free” sign attached.

5. Wood fencing – Donate wood pieces to a local farmer, who can chip them up for use in chicken coops and other animal pens. Local ceramics studios also use scraps to fuel wood-burning kilns.

It seems the root of many of our recent damaging weather-related issues can be partly traced to climatic changes. Climate change is our reality, and as highlighted in a recent New York Times article, ongoing global climate changes will increase the intensity and frequency of these extreme weather events.

“Storms are one of nature’s ways of moving heat around and high temperatures at the ocean surface tend to feed hurricanes and make them stronger. That appears to be a prime factor in explaining the power of Hurricane Irene, since temperatures in the Atlantic are well above their long-term average for this time of year.”

Have you been affected by storm damage?


Sue H.
Sue H5 years ago

Good tips to remember during the chaos of clean up. Thanks.

natalie n.
natalie n5 years ago

these are useful tips especially when learning to deal with the excess debris in the aftermath. and sometimes the animals are forgotten in the chaos, especially wildlife.

rene davis
irene davis6 years ago


Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener6 years ago

We, humanity, do have control over the use of pollutants!

Bonnie M.
Bonnie M6 years ago

There is nothing we can do when the fury of Nature hits the world. We can run away, cower in fear ,blame someone or something for the calamity. Or we can respect the fury and pray that technology can come up with faster and efficient system to warn an area of the impending danger.

Prochi T.
Prochi T6 years ago

very sad.

Holly C.
Past Member 6 years ago

Don't forget to Freecycle as an option, as some neighborhoods may have restrictions on items in the yard/waste piles after storms.

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan6 years ago

Nature is beautiful and powerful but unlike humans it does not discriminate.

Adrianna l.
Adrianna l6 years ago

very sad and poor animals :/
i really like the idea on using the trees, might as well use the non-living trees then deforestation

Monica D.
Monica D6 years ago

Thank you for this helpful article.