Pets take the bus as Ohio conducts evacuation drill at lake

BUCKEYE LAKE, Ohio (AP) – Residents and volunteers brought pets, including a baby goat, with them during an evacuation drill Saturday at central Ohio’s Buckeye Lake, as emergency responders practiced procedures they plan to use if the lake’s deteriorated dam fails.

The drill focused on a neighborhood along the lake of mostly older residents living in mobile homes and recreational vehicles, the Columbus Dispatch reported ( ). Volunteers also served as evacuees as buses took people to a Red Cross shelter at a high school about 3 miles away. Some residents did not participate in the drill and told the newspaper they weren’t worried about the 4.1-mile-long earthen dam because the state lowered the lake’s water levels.

Allowing people to bring their pets was an essential part of the drill. Emergency responders during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 learned that people were reluctant to leave their homes without their animals. A 17-year-old volunteer evacuee brought a 2-week-old goat named Sven on a bus with her Saturday.

Officials from Ohio’s Emergency Management Agency plan a local demonstration of their response capabilities at the end of May that might include an air lift.

They also plan to monitor how crowds disperse after the annual Fourth of July fireworks at the lake, which draws tens of thousands of people. They’ll watch for traffic patterns and other information that could be useful if evacuations occur.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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