RISING FAWN, Ga. (WDEF) — As Florida residents brace for Hurricane Irma, evacuees are fleeing to other neighboring states, including North Georgia.
The Southern Wood Arena in Rising Fawn is opening its doors, and gates for horses and other animals.
“Right now we’re mucking out the stalls, fixing the stalls any way we can, fixing boards, buckets, just maintenance work,” said Jerry Jones, one of the workers.
They already have from Florida about 40 horses, 30 dogs, two parrots, and a pig committed to stay here – a safe place from the storm.
“We’ve got a lot of space here, and wanted to open up our doors for people to come in and be able to get out of that path of that storm,” said arena owner and horse trainer, Sabastian Formby. “A lot of places are filling up quick. There’s not a lot of places to go.”
Formby says many Floridians have reached out to him, saying they haven’t been able to get gas to travel.
Only diesel has been available, and they are paying to have their animals brought here.
“We have people that are coming back, and they’re just shipping their horses up here, and they’re staying,” Formby said. “They don’t know what else to do.”
But some owners are able to come.
Formby says there are 13 RV hook up spots available, along with 49 stalls, and more space in the arena.
But he is directing most folks to hotels in other parts of the Tennessee Valley and North Georgia.
“We have plenty of room for crated animals,” Formby said. “Plenty of room for anything that we can that we can fit, we’re going to do that.”
Formby says he cannot imagine what these horse owners are going through.
“It’s rough. Especially when you’ve got babies. When they’re family.”
But these horse lovers are happy to help.
“It means a lot to me,” Jones said. “If I was in their situation, I would hope somebody would want to reach out like we’re doing and offer the same amount of help.”
Formby says they’d also greatly appreciate any volunteers, or donated dividers for the week to shelter the animals.
Anyone interested in staying at the arena should contact Formby on the Southern Wood Arena Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/southernwoodarena/.