Horse owners along the East Coast are bracing for a superstorm that the National Weather Service expects to deliver high winds, heavy rains, and storm surge flooding to states from Maryland to New York and beyond.
Hurricane Sandy began its march up the eastern United States on Sunday, Oct. 28, when the storm brushed the Delaware coast with high winds, rain, and flood waters. On Oct. 29, The National Weather Service National Hurricane Center advised that the Category 1 storm gained strength as it tracked up the Eastern seaboard before making landfall on Oct. 29 along or just south of the New Jersey coast.
On Oct. 28, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie advised residents of storm-affected areas to evacuate themselves and their animals well in advance of the hurricane's arrival. On Oct. 29, New Jersey Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Lynne Richmond said horse owners in that state were taking the Governor's advice to heart.
"People remember what happened with Hurricane Irene and even what happened in New Orleans with Katrina, they want to be out of harm's way, so they're taking this very, very seriously," Richmond said. "Right now we're working with our veterinarians in the field to see how many horses have been evacuated and where they've been taken."
Meanwhile, some Maryland horse owners wasted no time in bringing their animals to the Fair Hill State Park in Cecil County to wait out the storm, said Park Manager Wayne Suydan. According to Suydan, 118 stalls located in the park are routinely offered as safe haven for horses during hurricanes and other natural disaster events. As of Oct. 29, three horses were already occupying stalls at the park. He said other animals had probably been placed elsewhere or were remaining in their own storm-secured pastures until the hurricane moves on.
"People are already hunkered down," Suydan said.
Finally, in North Carolina, the wild horses of the Shackleford Banks appeared to have weathered that state's brush with Hurricane Sandy without incident.
"We really dodged a bullet," said Carolyn Mason, president of the Foundation for Shackelford Horses Inc. "We haven't gone out yet to count noses, but these horses have been weathering theses storms for 400 to 500 years. They know what to do."
The National Weather Service expects Hurricane Sandy to bring at least high winds and storm-surge flooding to coastal areas as far north as Maine before losing strength later this week.
Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.