Of all the natural disasters, flooding is the most common. Depending on the location and intensity of the storm, water levels may rise very fast. Since you may only have a short time, it is best to be prepared in advance. You should be aware if you live in the 100 year flood plain, and if you reside in a flood prone area. Make sure your drive is well constructed to protect you from being stranded when the waters rise.
The first step in planning for any natural disaster is to create an evacuation plan and share it with everyone involved. You should establish which horses will be moved first, create an emergency kit and be prepared to have enough supplies for you and your horses to last a minimum of 72 hours. Hay and grain should be kept in plastic bags or containers to keep it dry, for regular use store in a breathable container to avoid mold and mildew. Also make sure to bring an emergency kit as described below. Most importantly, do not drive over a flooded road. You don’t want your truck and trailer swept down a raging current.
If enough warning is given, evacuate before any danger occurs. Keep identification and proof of ownership of all horses with you because if you are unable to take them all, you will need it to reclaim them. Turn horses out that can’t come with you and give them an escape route. Do not leave them in a stall. Horses can actually swim well and can tolerate being in standing water for several days. You can put your name and contact information in a plastic baggie and attach that to your horse’s halter, but if the halter comes off it’s not of much use. Another way to mark your horse is to write your name and phone number directly on the horse’s hair with a grease marker, permanent marker or spray paint. Don’t worry, eventually the writing will wear off (or shed out).
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries in Victoria, Australia recommends the following for an emergency kit:
- Flashlight and portable radio with extra batteries
- Food that requires little or no cooking or refrigeration
- Emergency cooking equipment
- Drinking water
- Shovel and axe/saw
- Wire cutters
- Equine and human first aid kits
- Leather gloves
- Extra halters and lead ropes
- Extra clothing