The last message from Susan in Anguilla was “I have written my phone number on Dreamer’s hooves – God Help Us!”
In 2010, Hurricane Tomas struck us in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This was a category one Hurricane and the eye passed at 100 mph right between St. Vincent and St Lucia. I remember this day like it was yesterday. Staff and students stayed in one of the Academy’s strong concrete corridors while the storm battered its way through our small island community.
Every now and then we could feel the ground shaking as the grugru palm trees came down one by one. It was unbelievable to see these huge majestic trees drop to the earth like matches.
Our herd of horses made us recognize and realize how serious Hurricane Tomas was. Friday night about 12 hours before the hurricane hit, I went to see the horses and they were “electric” with fearful excitement, like in another world. They were in the pasture with many trees in the center and it was very difficult to get in touch with them, pawing and running on high alert.
I had never seen them like this before. The wind and rain pelted with growing intensity. I went inside and learned that the winds had become a hurricane and it was likely to touch down on us within the next 12 hours.
I had no idea what to do with the horses, but clearly they knew they did not want to be where I had put them. So we decided to walk them down to the football field where they would have a lot of space to get away from flying trees and branches.
In the dark wind and rain, I could get a halter on my leadmare Darling, her “shadow” Elena and also Jack. Magic, Spirit and Moonlight were untouchable.
Somehow I could communicate through to the herd that we are going to a better place and you need to trust me to take you there, all together now. I was nervous but calm as I walked down the hill toward the football field with three horses on a rope and three to follow. A friend held the flashlight so we could find our way in the dark. I had only had my herd for three years at this time and it was still difficult for any other people to handle most of the rescued wild herd.
I left the herd on the football field and returned to the concrete corridor at the school. We waited for the worst part during the night, sitting with candles and telling each other stories. As the dawn broke, the hurricane roared in, and over the next seven hours we witnessed an amazingly strong storm pass us gently. Gently in the way that there was no damage to the building, all people were safe and all horses were safe too. Here is a video I took in 2010 during and after the Hurricane and at 03.10 in this video you can see the herd when I meet them after the Hurricane.
They were fine and had returned to grazing.
But all the trees, broken shelters and fences took us a year to clean up. Most importantly, we were all safe. We lost all the work we had done on the farm for three years, fortunately, compared to others, we had other “economical legs” to stand on and make it through.
Hurricane Irma that is right now on the way to Florida and has devastated several islands north of St. Vincent tears through with a strength of 185 mph. I can’t imagine what that could be like.
Prior to the current storm, Susan from Anguilla called me. She had found me on the internet and was worried for her horse Dreamer and wanted to know what to do with her horse during the hurricane.
I told her what I did in 2010, but have no idea if this can help in her situation.
I have not seen Susan online since and don’t know what happened to Dreamer.
The climate is changing. Global Warming and Climate change are caused primarily by the human’s polluting the atmosphere. Heat gets trapped, temperatures rise, ice melts, sea level rises, ocean temperature rises – hurricanes are more frequent and stronger.
It is very serious.
We need to change, mitigate and adapt. There is no longer time to stand on the sideline thinking that this is someone else’s task.
There has never been a hurricane like Irma, and Hurricane Jose is coming on the heels of Irma, as I am writing this blog.
Dear Friends – We all need to do our part. Decide what is yours.
PS – There has instantly been so many wonderful and supporting comments on Facebook pages, please ask questions and give comments here on this blog, then I can find them all and answer. Thank you for all your support and thoughts!
More on Climate Change by James Hansen
and by Bill McCibben
Photo Credits Susan in Anguilla