Press Room

National Audubon Society Vows to Respond to Impacts of Devastating Storms

Audubon will stand with the people and birds affected by Harvey-Irma dual tragedies.

MEDIA ADVISORY for September 08, 2017

NEW YORK — As Hurricane Irma nears landfall in Florida, likely affecting millions across the southeastern United States, the National Audubon Society is standing in solidarity with all people, including our staff, volunteers, partners and friends, in the storm’s path and wishing them and their families’ safety and minimal loss of property. We also send messages of strength and appreciation to the first-responders whose jobs are to ensure public safety before, during and after these storms.

Through our state office, Audubon Florida, we are closely monitoring the storm and making necessary preparations to ensure the safety of our staff and secure our properties. Audubon Florida has closed offices threatened by Hurricane Irma, including the state headquarters in Miami, our Everglades Science Center in the Florida Keys, our Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, our Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland and the Lake Okeechobee office in Florida. Other Florida offices in Tampa and Tallahassee are watching the situation and will respond as necessary.

Hurricane Irma approaches on the heels of another historically devastating storm in Hurricane Harvey that, two weeks prior, inundated Houston and surrounding areas and sent storm surge and rainfall across coastal Texas and Louisiana. With a state office, numerous chapters and centers, as well as 178 rookery islands overseen by staff and volunteers, Audubon has had an active presence in Texas for nearly a century. All staff were reported safe in the aftermath of Harvey; however, Audubon deeply mourns the loss of long-time Houston Audubon volunteer and education docent Agnes Stanley. Since Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters receded, Audubon staff have been on the ground assessing damage to managed properties and developing plans for recovery over the near and long term.

While some communities prepare for the worst from Hurricane Irma and others begin the arduous recovery process following Harvey, our primary focus is on the immediate safety and well-being of anyone affected by these storms. As an organization with deep roots in the areas affected by these storms, including numerous offices, as well as staff and volunteers who live and work in these states, Audubon stands ready to activate its vast network and leverage its expertise to help these communities recover and rebuild stronger than before in the months and years ahead.  

Conservation Experts Available for Interview:

  • David O’Neill, Chief Conservation Officer and Senior Advisor to the CEO, Washington, DC
  • Iliana Peña, Director of Bird Conservation at Audubon Texas
  • Erik Johnson, Director of Bird Conservation at Audubon Louisiana
  • Julie Wraithmell, Deputy Director, Audubon Florida

Background:

  • Audubon Florida: For more than a century Audubon has encouraged people to take care of the places that make Florida special. Using science to guide our priorities and birdlife to measure ecosystem health, Audubon advocates for the protection of land, water, and wildlife. Audubon is Florida’s most influential conservation organization and conducts extensive work to protect the Everglades and coastal bird habitats. We manage sanctuaries covering thousands of acres along with two popular nature centers. Audubon promotes stewardship and appreciation of public land and water so people experience and cherish Florida’s natural beauty and wildlife.
  • Audubon Texas: For nearly a century, Audubon has managed sanctuaries off of Texas’s coast, which now comprise 178 islands spanning 70 percent of the state’s coast and are important stopover sites for 98 percent of long distance migratory species in North America. In addition to a state office, our network in Texas includes three nature centers and 20 chapters – three of which were impacted by Harvey, including Houston Audubon. Over the last two weeks, our staff Audubon Texas staff and chapters have been assessing damage to our properties and assets, as well as critical bird habitat, particularly at Sundown Island, which was in Harvey’s direct path. For more information, visit tx.audubon.org.
  • Audubon Gulf Program: In the aftermath of other disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill, Audubon has worked across the Gulf Coast, where it has 5 state or coastal offices, in Washington, D.C, and with its large network of chapters, centers, and sanctuaries, to advance large-scale coastal restoration projects that benefit birds and people, as well as a bird stewardship and monitoring program that stretches from Florida to Texas to help birds recover and thrive. 

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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Contact: Jacques Hebert, jhebert@audubon.org, 504-250-3699.

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