Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm, is bearing down on Florida and is expected to make landfall by Thursday night into Friday morning.
Meteorologists are calling Hurricane Matthew likely one of the strongest storms to hit the Florida coast in recent decades; the storm has already wreaked havoc on parts of the Caribbean including widespread and devastating damage in Haiti. Current hurricane warnings stretch up much of Florida’s east coast up to South Carolina with hurricane watches posted north of Charleston. This Category 4 storm is predicted to include heavy rainfall, dangerously high winds and storm surge, with the reach of the storm felt inland as well as on the coast.
Residents in areas predicted to be worst affected by Matthew have been strongly urged to evacuate; other residents further inland are preparing for widespread loss of power and property damages.
Horsemen are among those both evacuating and sheltering in place, with equestrian facilities both large and small, public and private opening their doors further inland and further north to shelter displaced horses: the Virginia Horse Center and Western Carolina State Fair are a few such examples.
Horse shows and events in Florida have been canceled, most notably the Equestrian Sport Productions October Show at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (as reported by our sister Jumper Nation). Events as far inland as Ocala have been put on standby as Matthew inches closer to Florida and the reach of the storm can be better determined. Our friends at the Horse Radio Network, based in Ocala, have canceled Friday’s broadcast anticipating poor conditions.
Horse owners are preparing for the worst and making sure their barns are well-stocked with fresh water and feed, as well as taking steps to make sure their horses can be identified:
The methods illustrated in the above post are highly recommended for safe identification of loose horses:
- Dog or luggage tag braided into the mane with horse’s name and owner’s information
- Owner’s phone number written in permanent marker on hooves
- Owner’s phone number written in permanent marker or paint directly on the horse
If you have not yet evacuated but plan to do so:
- Plan your evacuation route and destination ahead of time, and plan alternate routes as well
- Stock trailer, ideally with 72 hours’ worth of fresh water and feed and an equine first aid kit, as well as extra gas and your human first aid kit/roadside emergency kit
- Leave as early as possible!
Established evacuation centers and databases:
- Georgia: Hippodrome, Augusta: stalls for up to 300 horses. Visit website at http://www.northaugustahippodrome.com/ or call 803-278-4785
- North Carolina: link to ALL emergency boarding facilities
- South Carolina: equine evacuation information and contacts
- Florida: resources and information on evacuation
- Alabama: Covington Center Arena, call 334-504-2717; Garrett Coliseum, call 334-356-6866; Houston County Farm Center, call 334-792-5730; Lee County Fairgrounds, call 334-524-9680; 5 County Complex, call 334-465-1313
If you are in an area predicted to be affected by Matthew, we encourage you to take all the necessary precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of your animals. Our thoughts are with all those in Matthew’s path.
Want more resources on preparing for natural disasters? Click here for our recommendations on how best to prepare, as well as more links to further articles and preparation guides.
Stay safe, Horse Nation!