ALPHARETTA, Ga.- North Fulton opened its arms to people seeking to escape the terrors of Hurricane Irma. Even people’s pets were given shelter in Alpharetta. But where can you go with your horses and the water is rising?
In preparation for the storm, the Alpharetta City Council opened up the Alpharetta Equestrian Center to horse owners and their horses.
Around 100 equine refugees from Florida and Georgia were given shelter, food, straw and extra carrots. The Equestrian Center also opened its grounds to RVs and campers with free water and power connections.
“The City Council stepped in and told us to waive all the fees for horse owners who had been displaced by Irma,” said Equestrian Center Manager Matt Casey. “It didn’t really cost the city a lot of money but it was really appreciated by these people who had been chased out of their state by Irma.”
Casey noted the Equestrian Center has a lot of acreage and space. Helping horse owners out when flooding presents a problem is not new to the Equestrian Center, he said.
“We serve a large horse community, and with our acreage and it being on high ground, we have always reached out to help. But we started getting calls since before Labor Day.”
At the time of the interview, Casey said he had 81 horses on the property (with 15 more headed his way), one miniature pony and two goats.
Five RVs were in the parking lot that belonged to horse owners or just evacuees.
But this was not the Equestrian Center’s first rodeo. It has a veterinarian on call and the Georgia Hunter Jumper Association was also kicking in with feed and supplies for the horses.
Casey said he really appreciated the Hunter Jumper’s support.
“The equestrian community here is quite large and everyone wants to help. When there’s a need, they rise up,” he said.
Peter Stenborg from DeLand, Florida, drove up along with his horse, Chick, fleeing the storm. He has a friend who lives in the area and was told about the facility here.
“I was going to stay in Perry, but the storm started coming too close. So we headed for Alpharetta,” Stenborg said. “When they told us they would not charge us a cent, that pretty nice.”
His son, daughter and their families came as well but rented Airbnb homes because of the children and pets.
Stenborg said he rode out the last hurricane, but he listened to the warnings and decided to evacuate.
He said he would go back just as soon as the infrastructure – power, water, gasoline and stores – were all back in operation.