Hundreds of wild horses on the East Coast have escaped Hurricane Florenceunscathed after the storm wreaked havoc on the Carolinas and surrounding areas.
This week, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund and Cape Hatteras National Seashore announced that their horses were safe following the storm that has left large portions of North Carolina under water. On Sunday, officials announced more than a dozen people have died as a result of Florence, which made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on Friday.
When the storm was approaching, many were concerned about the dozens of wild horses in the state, but, fortunately, the storm didn’t affect their area as much as forecasters originally thought.
“The horses are doing fine! In our area, we did not get hit by the hurricane, but we did have a little storm,” Jo Langone, COO of Corolla Wild Horse Fund, tells PEOPLE. “There are places south and west of us where the people are getting hurt. There was a lot of spotlight on us last week when the hurricane was approaching because it looked like it could be coming to our area, but it ended up not.”
Florence did produce some high winds and rain, and Langone says the horses took cover in a forested area to protect themselves.
“The horses we have here, the wild ones, have survived almost 500 years,” Langone says. “So in this area of the country, which does get hit by a lot of hurricanes or noreasters, the horses have an enate ability to sense bad weather coming — but that doesn’t mean their preparing for days as people do!”
She adds: “But like a day before or even a half day before a storm, they know they need to be out of wide open space if we have high winds coming and heavy rains. They’ll take protection in forest areas or in the marsh, and hunker down. Sometimes they’ll group together because they block off bad weather from each other.”
There are nearly 100 horses within the 7,544 acres that make up the public and private land that the animals are free to roam at the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.
Langone says once the high winds and rains cooled down, the horses came out from the trees safe and sound.
“Once it alleviated, the horses started coming out and grazing where they normally would,” she says. “They weren’t affected for that long!”
Hurricane Florence has resulted in 24 deaths as of Monday night, according to the Washington Post. While the storm has been weakened to a tropical storm, authorities are still concerned about flooding.
“The flood danger from this storm is more immediate today than when it made landfall just over 24 hours ago,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said, according to a press release issued on Saturday. “More people now face imminent threat than when the storm was offshore. I cannot overstate it: Flood waters are rising. If you aren’t watching for them, you are risking your life.”