‘We had to start from scratch:’ Cape Fear Equine Rescue opens its doors for the first time since Hurricane Florence

Cape Fear Equine Rescue, which was completely destroyed in Hurricane Florence, will once again open its doors this weekend.
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 8:09 AM EDT
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ROCKY POINT, N.C. (WECT) - Cape Fear Equine Rescue, which was completely destroyed in Hurricane Florence, will once again open its doors this weekend.

“We had 12 foot of water in the barn — we lost all the property we were renting, so unfortunately we had to move and rebuild,” said Brandie Futrell, executive director of Cape Fear Equine Rescue. “We had to start from the bottom — we had to purchase land, we had to purchase a barn, we had to put everything together, so we had to start from scratch.”

The loss of Cape Fear Equine Rescue has had a major impact on horse rescue in the area over the last several years. Not only are there not that many equine rescues left, but the non-profit serves eight counties.

Right now, there is also greater demand for the work they do because many people have fallen on hard times because of the pandemic.

“We do have a community outreach program where we help citizens in our community that may be down on hard times, especially with COVID — whether it be loss of jobs, sickness, death in the family,” Futrell said. “We help with feed, grain, vet bills, castrations if needed.”

“The demand has been really high to help horses in the midst of COVID because so many people found themselves in financial crisis and needing to surrender their horses or you had these neglect cases like Windy and just not a lot of resources out there,” said Jewell Horton, who does community relations for Cape Fear Equine Rescue

Windy is their newest rescue and will be their first horse in the new facility. She was surrendered to Cape Fear Equine Rescue by someone who actually rescued the horse themselves, but realized the medical attention she needed was too costly for them to handle. Windy needed four teeth pulled and had an infection in her mouth. She also has overgrown hooves and is malnourished. Futrell and Horton say she needs to put on 300-500 more pounds.

Before their facility was destroyed, Cape Fear Equine Rescue would often care for 10 to 15 horses like Windy at a time.

The non-profit has been working tirelessly over the last several years to make their new facility a reality.

“It’s a core group of 20 people who have gone out there every weekend and fundraised and done quarter auctions and online auctions all through COVID and then every weekend gone out there to the rescue in the bitter cold and rain and built this barn themselves,” Horton said. “I think it’s really a testament to their devotion to their community and to horses like Windy.”

Fundraising was made even more challenging because of the pandemic.

“COVID has been really hard on all the nonprofits for fundraising — not being able to get out there and do boots on the ground events like we used to do,” Horton said.

While the new facility is officially ready to open its doors, there are still some projects that need completing — and they aren’t cheap. They have some pastures that need to be put in and some shelters that need to be built. They also need to have a well put in, which is estimated to cost around $10,000, but they are hoping to receive a grant for that. In the meantime, they are sharing their neighbor’s water.

Cape Fear Equine Rescue will hold an open house on Saturday to show the community the new facility. It’s from 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. at 1146 Little Kelly Road. There will be chicken plates available for a donation or item off their wish list.

You can visit their website by clicking here.

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