As monster storm, Hurricane Irma, barrels toward Florida with sustained winds at 180 mph, preparations are well underway. The latest report shows Irma as a category 5, and the storm isn’t expected to weaken until it makes landfall this weekend.
Forecasters are calling Irma the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic. It has set an all-time high for the amount of wind energy recorded over a 24-hour period (Charlotte Observer, 2017). The storm is so strong that it’s showing up on seismometers that are used to register earthquake activity.
Not only is this storm strong, it’s massive with tropical storm force winds extending 185 miles from its center. Just to put that into perspective, Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida in 1992, had winds extending just 90 miles from its center.
Due to gas shortages and the amount of traffic headed north on the main I-75 highway, consider all the options if you’re planning to evacuate and follow the advice of your local emergency management team. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, “Interstate movement requirements for the transportation of pets and livestock out of Florida, including health certificates, are suspended until September 30th in response to Hurricane Irma. In addition, the following states have waived their interstate import requirements for Florida, pets and livestock leaving the expected impact areas of Hurricane Irma: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.” If you’re planning to stay and ride out the storm, please make sure that both you and your horses are adequately prepared.
FloridaHorse.com is an excellent resource with hurricane preparedness information and an extensive list of Florida emergency management websites by county. Did you know that after Hurricane Andrew, 80% of horses found had no identification? They have some excellent tips for horse identification, including taking a photo of your horse with a family member in the shot. Keep this image with a copy of a current Coggins, vet information, and medication information in a safe location. Fetlock ID bands, neck ID bands, or a leather halter with an ID tag listing the owner’s address, phone number, and name are good options. You can also write special information about any medication needs on a card, put it inside a small plastic bag, and tape it to your horse’s halter. Tying an ID tag into your horse’s tail is another method of quick identification. You can also body clip your phone number or use spray paint as another identification method. One of their recommendations is NOT to put a copy of your horse’s Coggins on the horse, because it’s essentially a passport out of the state. Sadly, not everyone is trustworthy, and animal rescue may not be the ones to find your horse after the storm.
While some basic recommendations, such as having a two-week supply of water and feed, stored in water-tight containers; filling plastic garbage cans with water; and preparing an emergency medical kit, are helpful, FloridaHorse.com has a few additional tips that you might not have thought of. For example, they recommend taking a plywood board and spray painting two different messages on either side. One might read, “HAVE ANIMALS, NEED HELP,” while the other could say, “HAVE ANIMALS, OK FOR NOW.” Also, before leaving, turn off circuit breakers to the barn to avoid a potential power surge that could cause a fire. Another excellent idea is to prepare an after-the-storm barn kit that contains items necessary for clean-up, such as a chainsaw, hammer, nails, saw, and extra fencing materials.
Florida– The Florida Agricultural Center and Horse Park located in Ocala is providing shelter and boarding for 126 horses. The facility can host up to 160 horses and has 37 recreational vehicle/trailer hookups with water available. Click here for more information.
Georgia– The Georgia Quarter Horse Association has pulled together a list of evacuation sites for horses fleeing Florida, Coastal Georgia, or South Carolina in the path of Hurricane Irma. If you have availability and would like to be added to the list, contact Georgiaquarterhorse@yahoo.com with the number of stalls available, location, and contact information. If you need assistance finding a barn, contact Terry Darby at 770-855-8793 or Robin Barrow at 770-464-0890. The locations include Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. Hurricane Evacuation List (as of 5 pm 9/6)
Kentucky– The Kentucky Horse Park is offering 200 stalls to evacuees. The stalls are being offered until September 17th for $20 per stall per night. No pasture turnout, longing, or riding is allowed. A negative Coggins test is required. Click here for more information.
East Tennessee- Jennifer Tolley Campbell provided this list of residents in Eastern Tennessee who are willing to house Hurricane Irma evacuees.
1. Jennifer Campbell, location- Hampton, TN. 423-557-2435. I have six 12 x 12 stalls and a couple of pastures. We have nine horses of our own, dogs, cats, and cows. We will do what we can to help. No transportation.
2. Diane Murphy Bolognese, location- Butler, TN. 423-845-3037. We have water and electric hook ups here at the house and at the barn. We have two horse trailers we’re not using. We can sleep two people in each, no charge. Also, we have 2+ acres at the barn for horses shade, water, and good grass, but no stalls. At the house, there is a small enclosure for two horses with water. You would need hay/ feed.
3. Tina Goodyear, location- Johnson City, TN. 423-202-0641. 10+ acres of pasture with barbed wire fencing and a run in shed, water, couple dog lots, chicken coop, and a goat lot. Will need hay and grain if needed. Spaces to park several campers, will need generators for power, but I have water.
4. Maggie Powell, location- Johnson City, TN. 423-957-9578, five horse stalls and some pasture.
5. Double C Acres, Inc., location- Morganton, NC. 828-758-5203. We have plenty of stalls and paddocks. Self-care basis. Shavings and hay available.
6. Arielle Blackstone at Renaissance Farm located in Bulls Gap, TN. We have six 12 x 12 stalls and one 12 x 18 stall. We have small paddocks with run in sheds. We have a small apartment on site that sleeps six and has RV hook ups. We will have plenty of hay and are dog and other critter friendly. 401-965-1851. www.renaissancefarmtn.com
7. Renee Kostermans, location- Knoxville, TN, 865-237-4234. We have 20 acres, five acres fenced, and a two bedroom house.
8. Janet Allway French- I have a small private farm in Southwest Virginia, if anyone on the east coast needs to evacuate and head West to the mountains. We can take two or three horses/donkeys that will get along in a board fenced paddock. Water trough and run in shed available. Can park a small to mid size trailer. Negative coggins required. Close to Roanoke/Blacksburg, Virginia area. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
9. Tosha Tracey, location- Chuckey, TN. 423-767-4783. Have land for goats, sheep, potentially a horse or two, cows, caged animals (poultry). No stalls but land, water, and shelter.
10. Elliott Williams, location- Chattanooga, TN. 423-364-8309. We can take four, five, or six. We have stalls, pasture, and an arena that can be used no charge. Feed stores nearby have plenty of buckets, etc.
11. Angel Bryant, location- Loudon, TN. text 865-347-7614. Pasture for two or three horses.
12. Lori Kegley- location- Butler, TN. 423-895-5012. I can make some room at our place for Irma evacuees. Water and electric at the barn. Have pasture, may be able to make some stalls available.
13. Judith Scott, location- Kingsport, TN. 423-384-5878. Four stalls with turnout. All pets ok. No aggressive dogs please. Bunkhouse avail. No charge.
In addition, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is making stalls available to those evacuating from Hurricane Irma. As shared on their Facebook page, “The Celebration will make stalls available for those needing to evacuate due to Hurricane Irma. Stalls can be rented for $12 a day, which includes electricity and water. The Celebration will also clean stalls after the horses leave. Areas to work and exercise your horse will be made available at no extra charge; however, horses can not be turned out. Daily cleaning, bedding, and food will be the responsibility of the lessee. RV spots and parking for trailers are available on site. For more information contact Margaret Eakin at 931-684-5915.”
As many of our friends in the industry are aware, the home base for The Equine Chronicle is in Ocala, Florida. We send our thoughts and prayers to everyone in the path of Hurricane Irma.