Monroe ranch welcomes Florence evacuees and their horses

Monroe ranch welcomes Florence evacuees and their horses

MONROE, NC (WBTV) - A farm out in Monroe called “Why Not an American Ark” lived up to its name this week, as it became an ark of sorts, serving as a refuge for close to a hundred horses and dozens of other animals that were forced to evacuate the North Carolina coast ahead of Florence.

“I think we’ve got reservations for probably about 90 horses,” said farm owner Jeff Wylie, as he took a headcount of his visitors.

Wylie says that’s much busier than usual, but he and his wife were happy to open their doors.

Wylie even drove a trailer to the coast himself multiple times over the last few days, to pick up horses for people who didn’t have their own way to get to his property.

“When you get something like this that’s going to be as devastating as it is, you lend a hand anyway you can,” said Wylie.

Most of his visitors have made the trek in from Wilmington, like Kim Niggel, who owns a the Coastal Therapeutic Riding Program.

She brought all 30 of her horses, and even some of her pigs, to the Wylie’s farm. She’s bunked with them before and is very grateful to do it again.

“With this many animals and this many moving pieces, you really have to plan ahead. So a lot of our people were trying to get their homes ready, their pets, and my mother-in-law, things like that. So, you’ve got to think about a lot of things beyond just your house when you’ve got the horses,” explained Niggel.

So, now, these evacuees are filling feed buckets and setting up shop in every single stall.

However, the relief of finding a temporary home for their horses, is somewhat overshadowed by the stress of not knowing how their actual homes will fare back east.

“I don’t know what we’re coming back to, if anything. It’s the first time in all my years of living through hurricanes, it’s the first time I’ve pulled out of my driveway and thought, there might not be anything here when we get back,” said Marguerite Ayers, who evacuated from Hampstead.

It’s a frightening feeling, and one these folks will have to wrestle with the rest of the week.

Nevertheless, they find comfort in knowing they’ve saved their horses, families, the most important things that cannot be replaced.

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