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Hurricane Dorian victim's urgent plea for housing

Needs a place for nine dogs and disabled spouse
Posted at 4:15 PM, Nov 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-16 16:15:50-05

LOXAHATCHEE GROVES, Fla. — Synopsis

Hurricane Dorian victims Linda and Glenn Albury have an urgent plea and are looking for a place to call home. Their requirements for housing are unique and will be a tough bill to fill; finding this kind of housing will be a figurative search for a needle in a haystack. On Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, Linda ran a make-shift animal shelter for 10 dogs. She needs a yard and housing for, plus her husband, Glen. He is a double amputee and requires wheelchair access.
In Marsh Harbour, their home is unlivable, their car exploded and destroyed because of fire, Glen's storage unit business vanished because of the storm.

Now, they have no transportation, no place to call home, no recent job history and now her money is running out. She says she is not looking for a handout, but a hand up.

The Story
It was an unusually gloomy overcast mild day in the normally sunny city of West Palm Beach. We met Linda Albury at the Best Western Motel on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard where she has been living for months. She asked if we could make the 30 minute drive west to see her four-legged family. You see, she has been using ride-share twice a week to visit her 10 dogs at Big Dog Ranch Rescue.

The dogs had been rescued from Marsh Harbour after Linda and her husband were forced to abandon them during the mandatory evacuation. Organizations like Baark and the Nassau Humane Society rescued the dogs out of the disaster area and brought them to Nassau. Then Big Dog Ranch rescue flew them to South Florida and is now taking care of the animals until Linda can find a place to call home.

"My dogs are my top priority," says Linda.

10 dogs may seem extreme for one family, but on the island, Linda had a purpose. "I've rescued in Abaco for 25 years. I guess looking back now, I was the one who had the first shelter there because I just took everybody in and made friends and spay and neutered," says Linda.

The makeshift shelter, Linda's home, sits on a hill that is more than 20-feet above sea level. But even that protection wasn’t enough against category five Hurricane Dorian. Water still managed to reach up to her windows.

Her home was surrounded by trees protecting the structure. "We were knitted in with trees, most of the trees literally died [protecting] us," recalls Linda. "[The storm] sounded like the Jolly Green Giant with a crowbar," says Linda.

Her husband Glen grew up on the islands and remembers a time when Dolphins would come up and swim with him in the Ocean. But now that life is just a memory and because of health complications from diabetes.

As the storm hovered over the Abacos for three days - Glen couldn't move around much and was getting cabin fever. So Linda tried to distract him by singing silly songs like 'Baby Shark' and doing Buddhist chants.

After the storm passed, "The tornado took everything," says Linda. "Their business was completely destroyed," says Lauree Simmons, president and founder of Big Dog Ranch Rescue.

"I looked with the binoculars and I looked in the distance I couldn't see [our storage] building. I was like, 'I must have my bearings incorrect,'" recalls Linda.

Mandatory evacuations began. And something didn’t seem right to Linda and her brother. There was a growing stench in the typically tropical air. "And so then it was Friday, and you could smell something in the air. My brother said, 'Something's not right over there. And I could not believe, five people had perished only like 20 feet off my driveway,'" remembers Linda.

Realizing her situation was dire, she still put her dogs' welfare first. The police superintendent said they had to go because of her diabetic husband. So she stayed with the dogs, and sent her brother with her husband to get treatment due to complications with his diabetes. Linda says the superintendent took her to a grocery store that was heavily guarded and gave her 225 pounds of dog food.

The U.S. Coast Guard started to arrive. "The first helicopter I saw was a U.S. Coast Guard. That put tears in my eyes," says Linda.

Days later she says the U.S. Coast Guard was hovering above her house. She says she could feel the reverberations. They landed in her neighbor's yard and said she had to leave immediately. She was now forced to flee leaving her dogs alone in the Bahamas. She left, but not before putting the Coast Guard to work. She handed out tasks to the Guardsmen to put out food and water for the dogs and to lock up the house.

The dogs now safe and secure, Linda grabbed one last thing... a treasured possession that would come in handy in the future. An item she would put in a safety deposit box for safe keeping in West Palm Beach - more on that later.

Linda is no stranger to Palm Beaches. She grew up in Massachusetts but lived here in South Florida for fourteen years where she worked everywhere from TooJays, The Gardens Mall, Admirals Cove and dabbled in the performing arts. She calls herself a "Jill of All Trades". In the '90s she moved to Marsh Harbour with her husband Glen to enjoy the island life.

She kept busy in the Bahamas, Linda did the books and invoicing for her husband's storage business. A business that is now gone - not even a piece of paper to prove it was there.

She looked after stray dogs by feeding them and making sure they were spayed and neutered had heart-worm medication and found them new homes. She estimates she's helped about 100 dogs and burried over 30 in her yard. But now that she's in the states she needs to find a job, a home for her and her 10 dogs that is handicap-accessible for Glen.

She says she is a ghost to the American workforce because she hasn't had a traditional job on paper for over 25 years. And now, a little older, is force to reinvent herself.

As we made our way to Big Dog, Linda had a strange request. She asked if we could stop at this Bank of America so she could get that treasured item she had but in her safety deposit box, she would need it later that morning.

We arrived at Big Dog, and she revealed this week, she had to make a tough decision. She had to euthanize one of her 10 dogs. Sunshine had cancer and wasn't doing well.

"That was a tough blow," weeps Linda. Sunshine was bleeding from her nose.

We got out of the car and Simmons was there to greet Linda. Simmons had a surprise. A Jeep Cherokee that was donated to the Ranch was now a gift to Linda. Linda cried as she told Simmons that she had done more for her than friends or family.

The two dog rescuers kindred spirits both caring about dogs more than people. The new jeep means Linda can look for work and a place to live with her nine dogs. Big Dog Ranch Rescue is also providing a tank of gas each week while she gets settled.

Simmons says the dogs are older, mature, and not destructive.

But one question lingered. She's out of money, where are Linda and Glen going to stay? Linda pulled out a Rolex, the treasure she was keeping in her safety deposit box. Then, Simmons goes one step further by paying Linda $10,000 from her personal checking account for that pricey possession – Linda stashed away while leaving everything else – including her dogs - behind in Bahamas.

Linda now had money for rent including first, last, security and a buffer of cash while she looks for employment. But they still need to find a place to live that will accept nine dogs and be wheelchair-accessible. It's a tall order for any landlord.

Linda needs one more hand up, if you know of a place she can rent reach out to Taste and See South Florida, and we will pass your information along to help Linda find her next piece of paradise. You can e-mail tawalker@wptv.com.