It's hurricane season again, and it appears we have a doozy of a storm bearing down on the mid-Atlantic. As of Monday, September 15, they are predicting landfall somewhere between the Carolinas and New Jersey, with most guestimates placing it cruising over the border of North Carolina and Virginia. Surviving inclement weather is a challenge for anybody, but those of us with critters to see to safety are faced with special challenges. Below you will find some brief information pertaining to general guidelines for preparedness, as well as specific information for some of the states likely to be affected.It's hurricane season again, and it appears we have a doozy of a storm bearing down on the mid-Atlantic. As of Monday, September 15, they are predicting landfall somewhere between the Carolinas and New Jersey, with most guestimates placing it cruising over the border of North Carolina and Virginia. Surviving inclement weather is a challenge for anybody, but those of us with critters to see to safety are faced with special challenges. Below you will find some brief information pertaining to general guidelines for preparedness, as well as specific information for some of the states likely to be affected.
It’s hurricane season again, and it appears we have a doozy of a storm bearing down on the mid-Atlantic. As of Monday, September 15, they are predicting landfall somewhere between the Carolinas and New Jersey, with most guestimates placing it cruising over the border of North Carolina and Virginia. Surviving inclement weather is a challenge for anybody, but those of us with critters to see to safety are faced with special challenges. Below you will find some brief information pertaining to general guidelines for preparedness, as well as specific information for some of the states likely to be affected.
General Guidelines for Hurricane Preparedness
(courtesy of Dr. Bob Mowry, NCSU Extension Horse Husbandry, Box 7523,Raleigh, NC 27695. 919-515-5784)
* Secure structures on your farm: move loose objects indoors, tie jumps and poles together Fill all water tubs.
* Store drinking water (if possible a seven (7) day supply). Note: This is one of the most difficult dilemmas to overcome during the clean up period when water sources tend to be contaminated. Allow for twenty (20) gallons of water/horse/day. Line garbage cans with plastic bags and fill with water.
* Order and store a seven (7) day supply of feed and hay. Place water repellent tarps over feed bags and place on pallets to reduce the likelihood of water damage.
* Bed all stalls including aisle ways for pastured horses to be tied during the storm. Store additional bedding in plastic bags indoors.
* Secure a generator (4 horsepower or greater) for use as an electrical reserve unit. Make certain the generator is large enough to run your water pump while providing electrical outlets for a refrigerator and lights. Store a large supply of gasoline.
* Place fly masks on pastured horses to reduce the incidence of eye injuries from flying debris.
* Identify your horses. Make certain if you halter your animals that the halter will break if caught on an object. Most feed stores carry blank cattle ear tags which can be written on with a permanent marker. Braid into the animals’ manes or tails. The name tag should include: your name, delivery address, phone number(s) and horse’s name. Consider spray painting your phone number in white or blaze orange paint on both sides of the barrel or hip of your horse. Microchips insert in the neck muscle are also excellent way to identify an animal. In some instances, it may be helpful to have pictures, identification and/or registration papers on your animals should you need to verify ownership. Be sure to store these items in an area that will remain dry.
* If practical and necessary, evacuate yourself and your horses well in advance of the storm to a safe holding area. Identify approved sites within 48 hours prior to intense weather. It is extremely difficult to pull a horse trailer during gale-force winds! Note: Your normally docile mount may become upset and difficult to handle with the environmental changes. Loading a horse during extreme weather may be impossible.
* Be aware of rapidly rising water. If you are located in an area prone to flooding, evacuate your animals with a seven day feed/bedding supply prior to the storm. If you are unable to evacuate, remove horses from their stalls and barns to higher ground prior to a rising water threat. Horses trapped in stalls or barns with hinged doors is a leading killer of animals immediately following a major storm. If you are unable to coordinate a move to higher ground, leave your animals in a pastured area.
* If your barn is well constructed leave your horses inside to minimize injury from flying debris. Example: Pole Barns with Post concreted in the ground Block Barns Barn Roofs with a history of routine maintenance built according to code.
* If your barn is poorly constructed or in poor repair, leave your horses in a naturally protected well-fenced pasture area, select low area protected by rises (elevations); make certain the area will not by subject to flash flooding; avoid streams, ponds, etc., keep horses away from shallow rooted trees or trees which had been damaged in previous storms, keep horses away from old dilapidated structures to minimize flying debris injuries.
* Secure and store temporary fencing materials to permit quick, temporary fence repairs. Select fence systems that will contain the horse without access to electricity. Permanent repairs can be made at a later date.
* Obtain film for your camera and camcorder to document storm damage. If time permits, take pictures of your structures prior to the storm. Review your insurance policy to determine storm coverage then document damage accordingly.
* Develop an emergency stable first aid kit, including the following:
* Adhesive Tape
* Duck Tape
* Nylon/Cotton Rope
* Extra Halters
* Clean Towels
* Antiseptic, Soap
* Leg Wraps
* Topical Antibiotic Ointments
* Pain Relievers
* Bee Sting Kit
* Insect Repellent
* Flash Light & Batteries
After the Storm
In many cases, wind and rainfall from the storm does not create as many problems as the after affect of the storm. Prolonged power interruptions, blocked roadways, downed trees (often across fencing and structures), increased populations of biting insects are all challenges facing the horse owner. The following recommendations will help reduce the affects of a storm help to protect your horse’s health.
* After the storm has subsided, immediately check your horse’s welfare.
* Take pictures of storm damage to facilities, fences and roadways.
* Due to the damage to trees, you need to remind your clientele to be aware of the possibility of Cyanide Poisoning due to the ingestion of wilted wild cherry (Prunus species) leaves, twigs, bark or seeds and/or red maple leaves (Acer rubrum). Symptoms include: weakness, excitability, grasping for breath, incoordination, collapse, convulsions, constipation or diarrhea, bloody urine, and death. Symptoms may result from as little as 1-2 cups of leaves on an empty stomach.
* If your power is out, persistently notify the power company. Advise them of the number of horses on your farm and importance of electricity to their well being. If possible, a personal visit is recommended.
* Contact the local fire department and request water delivery. Most fire departments will accommodate, if you have a large number of horses and you are experiencing a prolonged power outage. Make certain you have several tubs available to hold the water.
* Check your horse’s vaccination schedule against diseases caused by biting insects. Horses should be vaccinated annually for Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE). The increased mosquito population that occurs immediately after a storm has typically resulted in an increased incidence of encephalomyelitis. Horses located in areas with high mosquito populations should be vaccinated twice per year, six months apart.
* Contact your county extension agent for information concerning storm-related agricultural assistance programs for livestock/horse owners.
Emergency situations may force horse owners to make the difficult, but practical decision of putting human life above that of your horse. Animal owners are encouraged to care for themselves first and their animals second. The horse has demonstrated a remarkable survival ability in the face of natural disaster which far exceeds those of humans.
Lessons From Past Hurricanes
(courtesy of Sarasota County (Florida) Cooperative Extension Service Home Page)
Most common dangers to horses during hurricanes:
* Kidney Failure – Due to dehydration, wandering animals were deprived of water for days.
* Electrocution – Horses sought the lowest areas, in many cases this was a drainage ditch. The power lines that were blown down during the storm were strung over drainage ditches.
* Fencing Failure – Wandering animals, although unharmed during the storm, were hit and killed on the roadways.
* Debris Caused the Most Severe Injuries:
* Many horses require euthanasia due to entanglement in barbed wire and the result was severe injuries. Debris injuries were found most often in the hindquarters, because horses turn their tail to the storm.
If you are not confidant in your barn’s ability to withstand storm damage, do not keep your animals in the barn to prevent debris injury. If your barn collapses – and there is no way to insure that it won’t, large animals have no chance to save themselves and are likely to panic if they can’t follow their instincts.
After the Disaster
(This information prepared by Maryland Department of Agriculture, Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, Maryland Emergency Management Agency, Maryland Horse Council, Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, Maryland Racing Commission and the Maryland Jockey Club.)
* Be careful about leaving your horses unattended outside after the disaster. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and the horses could easily become confused and lost. It is best to place them in a secure area. Be sure fences are intact as some may be damaged by the disaster. Check fences and pastures for sharp objects that could injure horses. Be aware of downed power lines, raccoons, skunks and other wild animals may have entered the area and could present a danger to your horses.
* If any horses are lost during the disaster contact veterinarians, humane societies, stables, race tracks, equestrian centers, surrounding farms and other facilities that might house animals. Listen to the Emergency Broadcasting System for information about groups that may be accepting lost animals.
* If you find someone else’s horse after the disaster, isolate it from your animals until it is returned or can be examined by a veterinarian.
* Use extreme caution when approaching and handling unknown or frightened horses. Work in pairs when handling strange horses.
* Check with your veterinarian, the state veterinary medical association and the Department of Agriculture for information about any disease outbreaks that may have occurred as a result of the disaster.
* Be prepared to identify and document ownership when claiming lost horses. Photos of horses with you or a family member in them can be ideal.
* Consider establishing security measures on your farm to protect assets from looters, exploiters.
Evacuation Tips for Farm Animals
(courtesy of Virginia Beach SPCA)
* Evacuate animals as soon as possible. Be ready to leave once the evacuation is ordered.
* Arrange your evacuation route in advance.
* Arrange for a place to house your animals.
* Plan an alternate evacuation route. Alternate routes should be mapped out in case the planned route becomes inaccessible.
* Set up safe transportation. Make sure that you have available trucks, trailers, or other vehicles suitable for transporting farm animals. And arrange to have experienced animal handlers and drivers to transport them.
* Take your supplies with you. At evacuation sites, you should have, or be able to readily obtain, food, water, veterinary care, handling equipment, and generators if necessary.
* Work with the state department of agriculture. If your animals cannot be evacuated, your state department of agriculture can provide on-farm oversight.
Emergency Horse Evacuation Sites in Virginia:
Colonial Downs, New Kent County, Virginia
Jerry Monahand, Director
Phone (888) 482-8722 ext. 1005
1,075 permanent stalls on site, Colonial Downs offers emergency stalls (12’x12’), as space is available. Their racing season begins Labor Day and continues until Christmas. No fee is required; however, boarders are asked to provide their own bedding and feed. Requires recent coggins test and health certificate. Must bring own stall guards as stalls do not have front gates. Contact Jerry Monahand at 1-888-482-8722 ext. 1005 or Security, Jim Miller or Dale Moser, at ext. 1040.
Lexington Horse Center, Lexington, Virginia
Robert M. Reel, Director
Phone (540) 463-2194
700 stalls available, Lexington offers their facility to horse owners prior to a natural disaster. No fee is required. Feed and bedding are available nearby for purchase. Negative coggins test required. Contact Robert Reel at 1-540-463-2194 for inquiries.
Airfield 4-H Center, Wakefield, Virginia
Harvey McLemore, III, Director
Phone (757) 899-4901
Airfield has 100 stalls and can board horses on a first-come first-serve basis due to impending storms. Fee would be $15.00 per stall per day. Requires waiver of liability. (757) 899-4901 is the front desk number.
Emergency Horse Evacuation Sites in North Carolina:
According to Steve Mobley from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, at present there are two facilities accepting horses on n emergency basis. Both are first come first serve, and would charge a daily fee per stall. Negative coggins is required of all equines, and bedding will be available for purchase as needed (although you must bring your own feed).
These two sites are:
The Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center for information and bookings contact Brian K. Dygert, Horse Complex Manager at: 2900 Hwy 125S Williamston, NC 27892 or call at 252/792-5802.
Western N.C. Marketing Center
570 Brevard Road
Asheville, N.C. 28806
Phone (828) 253-1691 Fax(828) 252-2025
In addition, following the hurricane, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture will have a hay alert page on their website to allow those who have lost or need additional hay to find sellers and suppliers. The Hay Alert can be found at: http://www.ncagr.com/HayAlert/index.htm
You can also contact your county extension office to obtain the name(s) of the REINS (Regional Equine Information Network System) Coordinating Agents and volunteers who are serving as Equine Disaster and Emergency Management Coordinators. A number of REINS volunteers/organizations have received in-depth training on disaster management. Several REINS organizations have developed a disaster/emergency equine management plan for their area. The REINS organizations will serve as the lead equine contact during an emergency/disaster within an area.
Information Sources: REINS web site: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/an_sci/extension/horse/hhreins.htm
Extension Horse Husbandry Web site: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/an_sci/extension/horse/hhmain.html
Emergency Horse Evacuation Sites in South Carolina:
A variety of facilities and evacuation plans are being coordinated through the Department of Agriculture, spearheaded by Marketing Specialist Mary Ellen Tobias. Tobias encourages any South Carolina residents with horses who need information, help or evacuation plans to call her at 803-734-2349, or email her at [email protected] Tobias will be maintaining lists of facilities taking evacuees, and will be able to direct individuals to those facilities which best suit their needs. Additional information can be obtained from Dr. Venaye Reece, the equine specialist off the state veterinarians office, by calling 803-788-2260, ext 231.
Emergency Information in Maryland:
Notify the Maryland Department of Agriculture through MEMA (1-877-MEMA-USA) if any agricultural assistance (including evacuation housing) is needed before, during, or after the storm, including injured animals in need of veterinary assistance or dead animals that require disposal.
Emergency Information in New Jersey: NJ Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health at (609) 292-3965.
Emergency Information in Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Equine Council Safety Team member Bonnie Darlington will be available for information and help at (814)-364-9826, or email her at [email protected]