North Carolina’s wild horse herd has weathered Florence’s fury.
“They are survivors,” herd manager Meg Puckett told The News & Observer on Friday.
Ahead of the storm, then a powerful Category 4, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF), a nonprofit which manages the herd, posted on Facebook that the wild mustangs that make the Outer Banks their home would manage just fine without help, even in the face of heavy rain and hurricane-force winds.
“The horses have lived on this barrier island for 500 years, and they are well equipped to deal with rough weather,” the CWHF wrote on Facebook ahead of the storm. “They know where to go to stay high and dry and are probably in better shape right now than most of us humans who are scrambling with final preparations. “
“(We are) so lucky to have missed the worst of the storm,” Puckett said. “Feeling terrible for everyone down east.”
The herd had no losses “that we know of,” Puckett said Friday. “We were so, so lucky.”
CWHF also manages a farm of 18 wild horses that have been removed from the herd because of illness, injury or habituation. There was no damage to the farm, Puckett said.
As for the wild herd, they found higher ground and grouped together against the wind and rain, Puckett said, and CWHF had people on the island keeping an eye on them.
“So far it’s been business as usual for them, out grazing in all the normal spots,” Puckett said. “The horses are back out at all their usual haunts.”
There’s some potential for storm-surge flooding over the weekend, but Puckett said she and staff are being updated by Currituck County emergency management officials and “it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be bad ... nothing worse than a regular storm or nor’easter.”
Puckett said she’s back on the island where the wild herd lives, but hasn’t been up to the beach area where they spend most of their time.
“The tides are really high and driving on the beach would be pretty hairy,” she said. “
But Puckett has spoken to people who live on the island who have all said they’ve seen the herd out and about, doing well. She’ll be up to check on them as soon as conditions improve.
There’s a weight off of the CWHF staff’s shoulders, Puckett said.
“We are breathing a sigh of relief,” she said. “We appreciate the outpouring of support over the past week.”
And Puckett has photos of the herd and horses at the farm “doing their normal thing - grazing, socializing, and wondering what us crazy humans are all worked up over.”
To donate to the horses’ care, click here and select “donate.”