Helping Paws seeks emergency assistance after flooding washes out fund-raiser

The heavy rains April 18 and 19 that flooded Huntington's south side also washed away the funds needed to care for the nearly 300 cats being sheltered by Helping Paws.

The waters flooded Hier's Park and its Family Living Building, where Helping Paws was all set up for a fund-raising garage sale that was to have been held on Friday, April 19.

The garage sale had to be canceled and many of the items set out for the sale were ruined, says Betsy Bilyew, a volunteer with the no-kill cat shelter.

"Our kitty cats just lost their income for the next few months," Bilyew says. "We always target this date because this is when we run out of end-of-the-year money. This is pretty devastating."

The spring garage sale, held annually for at least the last seven years, usually brings in about $3,000, she says.

That money is used to buy cat food, pay medical expenses and cover utility bills for about two months, she says.
With little chance of rescheduling the spring garage sale, the Helping Paws volunteers are hoping for community donations to help cover those expenses.

"We're not afraid to work for our money," Bilyew says, "but this is just beyond our control."

On Friday morning, she said, the water outside the Family Living Building was at least a foot deep. The amount of water inside the building was not immediately known.

Even if the water were to drain immediately, she says, the inside of the Family Living Building is likely to be covered with mud.

All larger items on the floor are ruined, and the building and tables will have to be sanitized.

Items that had been displayed on the tables, she says, are probably in good condition.

More than a dozen volunteers had spent all day on Thursday, April 18, preparing for the sale, Bilyew says.

In addition to the loss of income from the garage sale, she says, Helping Paws will now have the expense of cleaning out the building and hauling items to the landfill, she says.

"If anyone would be willing to help us in our time of need, we could really use it," Bilyew says.

Cash donations can be mailed to Helping Paws, PO Box 5261, Huntington, IN 46750 and should be designated "flood."

Donations of Purina Cat Chow in blue, green or yellow bags can be dropped off at either Helping Paws location, at 2242 S. Marion Rd., Huntington, or 7005 Old U.S.-24 E, Huntington. Neither shelter location sustained any flood damage, Bilyew says.

To find out if any additional volunteer help is needed with the cleanup, call volunteer David Vogleman at 672-9783.