Ocala Horsemen Cope With Power Outages, Minor Damage Following Frances

Horsemen in Ocala were coping with downed trees, damage to barn roofs, and widespread power outages Wednesday during the wake of Hurricane Frances, which pounded Central Florida with heavy rains and strong winds over the Labor Day weekend.

"We got very lucky," said Francis Vanlangendonck of Summerfield Farm. "It (the storm) basically skirted us and we had 50- to 60-mile-per-hour winds instead of 80- to 90-mile-per-hour winds. Shingles and tin were blown off roofs, and people have told me about horses that got hurt from things falling on them and stuff like that. They (the horses) had scrapes and cuts, but no serious injuries. There were limbs down at our farm, but we didn't have any structural damage (to buildings)."

Vanlangendonck, who was preparing to ship horses to Kentucky Thursday for the Keeneland September yearling sale, said he had to hook a generator to his well-based system to supply water to the farm. His wife Barbara set up a temporary farm office at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. (OBS), which did not lose power, so she could process paperwork and handle various arrangements for upcoming sales in Kentucky, Maryland, and Ocala.

OBS served as a shelter for horses in the path of Frances. Five hundred to 600 horses, primarily from Florida's East Coast, were stabled there while the storm passed through the state, according to Tom Ventura, the OBS director of sales and general manager. Approximately 100 head still remained on the grounds as of Wednesday morning.

The OBS sale and off-track betting complex suffered only minor damage.

"One of the barn roofs peeled back a little bit," Ventura reported.

Downed trees, fence damage, and loss of power were the primary problems Ventura heard about at area farms.

"Everybody is pretty well coping with it and going on," Vanlangendonck said.

About the Author

Deirdre Biles

Deirdre Biles is the Bloodstock Sales Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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