The devastating stream of tornadoes that ripped through five states including Missouri, Arkansas and Kentucky last week left thousands without power and caused dozens to lose their lives. The largest tornado laid down a deadly swath over 220 miles (354km) long. It was yet another unprecedented extreme weather event in a year filled with them.

As horse lovers, as well as being concerned about the human factor, our minds jump to how such events affected local animals from all species. In an area north of St. Louis Missouri, rescue crews spent five hours freeing horses that were found trapped in a barn that had collapsed during the storm. Unfortunately only three of the five horses survived, but the effort that locals and rescue teams made to help is awe inspiring.

The New Melle Fire Protection District posted about the rescue on their Facebook page.  “Multiple pieces of heavy equipment, chainsaws, chains and other tools were brought to the scene to assist in recovery. One particular scene was a large barn that had collapsed with horses inside. It was confirmed that 5 horses were in the barn and 4 of them were visible, alive and heavily trapped. Crews went to work carefully dissecting the barn with chainsaws and skidsteers. There were 5 veterinarians on scene assisting in sedating and treatments. One by one we were able to extricate all of the horses that were alive. We did confirm one horse that was deceased prior to our arrival and one of the rescued horses didn’t make it once out of the barn. Rescue efforts took approximately 5 hours. It’s events like this that really show what our community is made of. Between our volunteer firefighters, all of career firefighters, local businesses and residents along with fire and Ems crews from all over we were able to mitigate the disaster.”

Rural Kentucky is home to some of the world’s most famous racehorses, stables and tracks. Thankfully, most of the iconic Lexington-area Thoroughbred breeding operations were not in the path of the tornadoes and were not impacted by the event. To help with local efforts to provide aid to human and horses in need, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association has created a GoFundMe campaign called Relief for Western Kentucky.  So far, the page has raised nearly $125,000 USD towards rebuilding efforts.