Lorraine Jackson kindly sent us this update on the 300 feral ponies who live on Assateague and Chincoteague Islands, which have been hit heavily by the storm.
Just south of Ocean City, Maryland are the historic wildlife preserve islands of Assateague and Chincoteague, made most famous by Marguerite Henry’s “Misty of Chincoteague” children’s books. But in the midst of Sandy, the wild ponies who still roam the islands are going to have to prove their hardy constitutions once more.
According to Chincoteague.com’s Facebook page, the water levels on both islands are at extreme highs, especially with the full moon and high tide. Main Street in town is looking at more than a foot of water, and the causeway is not passable. So far islanders who evacuated have not been allowed to return to their homes, and those who rode out the storm overnight are under curfew. According to a delmarvanow.com interview with Emergency Management Coordinator Bryan Rush, the 37 square mile island of Chincoteague is underwater, as deep as three feet in some places.
As for the ponies, a certain number of nursing mares and their foals were transferred to the Chincoteague Island carnival grounds (see top photo), which is high enough that it is not in danger of serious flooding. The horses have been fed and are being overseen by members of the volunteer fire department still on the island.
For the rest of the ponies, the Fire Department opened up all the gates to the grazing areas where the ponies usually are so that they would be able to seek the highest ground possible, which the ponies will do instinctively. Once the worst of the storm has passed, Fire Personnel will go out to check on the ponies and, if necessary, help guide them back to their grazing areas and treat any injuries.
The worst storm to hit the islands in modern history was the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, which caused the death of several ponies on Assateague, which is the easternmost barrier island of the two pony havens.
To continue following updates on the islands and the famous ponies, “like” the Chincoteague.com Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/
Thank you to Chincoteague.com, DelMarVaNow.com and Assateague Island National Seashore for their contributions to this story.