By Amy Wenk
“Oh, Í’ve been better,” said Peggy Chester, manager of Huntcliff Equestrian Center in Sandy Springs on Sept. 25.
Four days earlier, disaster had struck the horse stables on River Run in the Huntcliff subdivision. That Monday’s heavy rains overfilled the Chattahoochee River, causing it to crest its banks and spill water across the riverside facility.
“I could see the water coming up and then it was getting deeper and deeper,” Chester said in a phone interview. “I drove my car halfway down the driveway and it stalled. I had to get out and walk the rest of the way. The water was up to my waist.”
When she got to the stables, she saw the water was rising quick. Worried for the horses and the center, she called for emergency services.
Sandy Springs Police and Fire Rescue, as well as Milton Fire Rescue and volunteers, responded to the scene.
“We have in this north metro area a very collaborative mindset,” Sandy Springs Police Chief Terry Sult said. “When you have something like that, everybody pulls together. Milton came straight down.”
The team went to work, and because of their efforts, all of Huntcliff’s horses evacuated the flood.
“It was unbelievable,” Chester said. “They sent a big rope down, canoes, life jackets for everybody. We had to lead 41 horses off the property. We had to wade with horses through water up to our waist, and we brought them up to the parking lot of the Huntcliff clubhouse.”
Volunteers from the Atlanta equine community came to help, bringing trailers to transport the horses and leading the horses to safety.
“Huntcliff horse trailers were trapped due to the rising water,” said Cathi Arora, spokesperson for the equestrian center. “Once trailers arrived, handlers led horses and ponies another half-mile up a steep hill to the trailers. They had to park so far away, because there was no safe turn around due to the rising water.”
The horses were driven to Wills Park in Alpharetta. The animals will stay for several weeks at Rein Check Farm on Birmingham Road while the center is repaired.
“Our heartfelt thanks go out to the amazing people who helped with our evacuation,” says the Huntcliff homepage (www.huntcliffequestriancenter.com).