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  • Writer's pictureConstance Wilmoth

When Disaster Strikes......

I am sure many of you have heard about the horrific train derailment in East Palestine Ohio. This made national news for a tiny little town that is only about five miles away from our farm. At first, we were not too worried about the derailment, it seemed that local authorities had things under control, however as the days progressed it became increasingly obvious that the issue was larger than what we were being led to believe. We came home Saturday about 24 hours after the train derailed from Cleveland and we drove right over the tracks, not only were we able to see the fire as we looked down the tracks, but we smelled a horrific scent. We went home and had a normal Sunday, preparing for our busy week ahead. But as Monday morning rolled around, we realized that we needed to take action. We have a friend that is a semi-local firefighter who was on the scene and gave us heads up that they were planning to detonate the train cars carrying the chemicals at 1 PM. Rob and I decided that we were going to leave, so I quickly locked all the animals in the barn with extra water and packed a bag for myself, Avery and Sadie to head to my parents' place.

As we were driving our friend updated us that the detonation had been pushed back to 3 PM, so Rob and I talked about what we should do and decided to drop the baby and our dog off at my parent's place and hook up to their bumper pull trailer and come home to try to evacuate the animals. Based on our timing we were going to arrive home just 15 minutes prior to the detonation. As soon as we got home and got the trailer turned around, I immediately threw on barn boots and gloves and ran out to the field to grab the horses. As I was running out into the field to grab Owen and Elle my phone went off with the emergency alert to evacuate. Thankfully, all of our animals cooperated. The horses loaded easily, and I put all 12 does in the front tack and both bucks into the rear tack of the trailer and we headed down the road.

As we were leaving there was another truck and stock gooseneck trailer speeding down our road. Rob and I both commented that he was clearly on a mission, coming to later find out that the animal rescue down the road from us was also evacuating and had put a call out to anyone in the community with trailers to come help. As we drove away our lovely town looked like a war zone, just a mile down our road there were police, national guard and Penn Dot trucks blocking the highway in both directions. This whole incident really made me think, thankfully, Rob and I discussed what we would do in a situation like this because we are also within the evacuation zone of the nuclear plant, and we wanted to have a rough plan in our minds in case of a nuclear disaster. We are so lucky and thankful to have a place to go that was able to accommodate us and all of our animals. As soon as we arrived at my parents place an hour and a half away, we offloaded our horses into an empty field with a run-in shed and took the does to an empty box stall in the barn. The bucks ended up being separated, one in my old goat stall under the stairs of the barn and the other living with my sister's pony. But overall, even though our routine was changed, we were so lucky to have a place to go where we could all be safe.

As the situation evolved Rob and I discussed that we likely will never store our horse trailer in the mines again. We were incredibly lucky to have so much heads up from our friend and the time to drive three hours round trip to get a trailer and evacuate our animals. Also, if we were to have our trailer, we would have not only been able to leave much quicker, but we also have a mini home on wheels for our family where we could have gone to a state park or fairgrounds if we had not been able to go to my parents' house.

This whole situation is one that really makes me consider what is best and how to handle a situation like this in the future. Thankfully, we were able to return home on Thursday after the explosion. There are still many unanswered questions about what the future holds and we will cover that in the future. I hope you are all well, take care and Happy Goating!

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