Evacuated horses are still being housed in safe locations away from the flood waters.
Photo: Courtesy Jerry Finch
While rains associated with Hurricane Harvey have ceased, flooding continues to challenge horse owners in and around Houston and Galveston, Texas. Meanwhile Louisiana horse owners are preparing to cope with the storm's slow northeastward trek.
Last week Hurricane Harvey stalled in Texas dousing Corpus Christi, Houston, and Galveston with more than 50 inches of rain that overflowed rivers and creeks and flooded cities and surrounding areas, according to the National Weather Service.
Some owners evacuated horses before the storm inundated their homes, but even those on higher ground are facing challenges, said Jerry Finch, of Habitat for Horses, near Galveston. In addition to its own horses, is Habitat for Horses is housing some horses evacuated from flood zones.
“We have 150 horses that are on high ground, but we have not even been able to feed them because our hay supply is two miles away and the roads are flooded and closed,” he said. “This cannot get any worse.”
Rescuers have been working to locate and retrieve horses that were not removed from flood zones before the storm. Fortunately, thus far, many have been successful, said Leslie Easterwood, MA, DVM, clinical assistant professor of equine community practice at Texas A&M University.
“Right now, Houston is under between 8 and 15 feet of water and we expect further flooding,” she said. While many horses have been evacuated or rescued from the area, she added, “horses still caught in the flood zone (might not) be getting out.”
It remains unclear exactly how many horses have been either rescued or claimed by the storm, said Thomas Swafford, spokesman for the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the agency coordinating state, federal, industry, and nongovernmental animal rescue efforts.
“We're still conducting animal assessments,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Texas Equine Veterinary Association has established a network of donations sites to connect storm-ravaged horses and owners with hay and other supplies.
“We've set up safe drop zones, so we're getting the horses fed,” Easterwood said. “People are really stepping up.”
As the Texas recovery efforts get underway, Louisiana owners are braced for their encounter with Harvey. On Aug. 30, the storm began pelting southeast Louisiana with heavy rains threatening severe flooding. Before the storm struck, the equine veterinarians from the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) began working with local colleagues, animal control officials, parish managers, and clients with disaster planning, said LSART President Rebecca McConnico, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM.
“Many horse owners have moved or are moving to higher ground, including evacuation sites in our state,” she said. “The lower 12 parishes have been through this with hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike, Gustav, and Isaac, and are plugged into plans for response if needed. Also many equine veterinarians have had (specialized) training and personal experience and are helping in their communities.”
As the recovery continues, equine industry organizations across the country are accepting donations—both monetary and supply donations—to aid horses and their caretakers impacted by Harvey’s catastrophic flooding:
- The Texas Equine Veterinary Association has specified donation hubs located around the state. Visit texasequineva.com to find out where to donate please take feed supplies, feed, buckets, halters, shavings, etc.
- Supplies are also being collected around the country for transport to affected areas. One such is underway at the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) office inside the Kentucky Horse Park, in Lexington (4033 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511).
Donation hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Labor Day hours are 7:30 a.m. to noon. Call the AAEP office at 859/233-0147 for directions. Arrange after-hours donations by contacting Keith Kleine at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859/327-8750.
Click here to see a current list of needed supplies requested by first responders.
- Financial donations are beneficial, as well, because of the difficulty in getting supplies from outside of the region to affected horses. The AAEP Foundation Equine Disaster Relief Fund, National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Foundation, and the United States Equestrian Federation Equine Disaster Relief Fund, among others, are all accepting support that will be distributed among credible programs and organizations helping with recovery and rebuilding efforts. Additionally, consider giving directly to PATH International, as several of their therapeutic riding facilities sustained severe flooding damage, and Habitat for Horses, which is housing some evacuated horses.