Disaster Relief

Natural Disaster Response Team

The Minnesota Horse Council Natural Disaster Response Team was organized in the spring of 1997 during the devastating floods in the Red River Valley. Volunteers were quickly brought together by the immediate need to find space, feed and care for many horses displaced by flooding almost beyond imagination. The Council then formally founded the Natural Disaster Response Team to make response easier and more directed. Since then, the committee has created a network of volunteers throughout the state.

The Committee works closely with VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) as well as with State and Federal Agencies and County Emergency Centers. The operations center of a natural or other disaster must be aware that the Council team is available. Badges identifying the volunteers are available to make access easier. Information about the team has been furnished to County Response Managers so that they can call on experienced, trained volunteers to work with horses. Information has been sent to saddle clubs throughout Minnesota.

A comprehensive manual of methods of equine rescue is being written to share with the many volunteers. The Council is constantly expanding the listings of available trucks, trailers, equipment and the people who operate them. More and more counties are volunteering their fairgrounds for emergency equine shelter. Local sources volunteer to actually do the hands-on care of sheltered horses. Others volunteer to provide feed, including hay and grain. The equine world is accustomed to neighbors helping neighbors, so a full-scale response for horses is seldom required in Minnesota. The committee is developing information to help horse owners prepare for those rare occurrences when outside help is needed on an immediate basis. Such things as early warnings of possible flooding and particularly early warnings for the possibility of fire will allow those responsible for horses to move them, with help, from the area before a full-blown crises occurs.

Some areas are still without county coordinators. All areas need additional on-call volunteers. To be a part of this important team, call the:

Minnesota Horse Council - Natural Disaster Response Team Dave Fleischhaker, Chairperson Phone: 651-402-5512  e-mail: Dave Fleischhaker

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