As I awaited the arrival of family members who had wisely boarded up their stout, mid-century Miami ranch house and planned to drive straight through with toddler and two cats in tow (a total of seven which will reside in our small home, help me, Lord) to escape the wrath of Irma, my attention was often diverted by texts arriving by the minute.
‘Do you have any open stalls for evacuating horses? FENCE and Harmon Field are already full’
‘Phone is ringing off the hook with worried horse owners. Does anyone have room for 5 horses coming in?’
‘Anyone have a field?’
I did. My barn was full but I have a five-acre field, although as it doesn’t have a shelter, I was concerned about potential wind damage coming to our area with no protection for livestock from falling tree limbs and howling rain. Darn it, I frowned to myself, I shouldn’t have put off building a ‘run-in’ shed out there, if for no other reason than this. But offer the field I did.
It’s frightening enough to have to evacuate with family and pets and choosing which cherished mementos to take and what family heirloom to leave behind. When one has livestock, and Florida is full of horses as well as beef and dairy herds, the task of evacuating is daunting. But with the same spirit that lifted the hearts of the suffering throughout Texas, I am overwhelmed by the support system that has taken firm root throughout the southeast. FENCE, our local equestrian and nature facility, offered up free of charge well over one hundred stalls, and countless volunteers were ready to step up and welcome, support and muck out as horses and their bleary-eyed owners began arriving at all hours.
Any mother or father knows the unfathomable relief once it is known their child, or children, are in safe hands during an emergency. Such was the feeling for horsemen as they also pulled into Harmon Field, near Tryon, NC, as well as the newly constructed Tryon International Equestrian Center with its 400 stalls on offer.
On Facebook, messages were being flashed by the hour: ‘Hawkinsville, GA Track is now open with 200 stalls!’ a friend posted, as another friend added links to South Carolina Equine Park in Camden, not to mention Highfields Event Center in Aiken. Accommodations and RV hook ups were also available. The Hay Rack, my local haunt, managed to wrangle another big rig filled with hay and bedding to provide for the added need in the area and anyone with an extra stall or two were making their offers known.
Aren’t people good? And kind?
I smiled over the musings of a friend of mine in Houston who proposed that the next commemorative monument to be erected should be of an ‘Average Joe’ and his bass boat, saving strangers from drowning during the flood.
What a splendid idea. And may I add for my own community another statue being commissioned of weary horses being led down a trailer ramp towards the waiting hands of welcoming strangers?
It’s funny…when I moved to this area after leaving Hollywood, people who recognized me from my acting days all seemed to ask the same question:
“Hollywood to Landrum?” they would query, as if I had chosen to move to a nuclear dump built on a landfill next to the Clampetts. “Why on earth would you want to live here?”
If for no other reason than what I’ve witnessed this past week...why would I choose anywhere else?