Articles: Press Release
LSU . . . A day in the life of a hurricane rescue team
Ky Mortensen * Equine Health Studies Program * Veterinary Medicine
Building * Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Telephone: 225.578.9590 * Facsimile: 225.578.9506 * www.vetmed.lsu.edu *
BATON ROUGE- "There are hundreds of little interest stories that have or
will come out of this thing" said Ky Mortensen, Director of Advancement
for the Equine Program at Louisiana State University. "Some will be
remembered for a long time, written down and shared nationwide. Others
will only live in the memories of those immediately involved. We got a
call on Tuesday night from some of the guys from the Arkansas Horse
Rescue team, letting us know that they had rounded up 5 mules and two
horses and had cornered them near the railroad tracks downtown near the
Aquarium, and needed us to come and get them. That's what the LSU role
has been...you call us, tell us where the horses are, what you need, and
how to get there, and we get the trucks and trailers out there with
veterinarians, technicians and volunteers on board to handle the
situation once they arrive."
"When the call for the mules came in, Dr. Dan Burba left immediately
with our own LSU truck and trailer and headed into downtown New Orleans
to try and find the mules. We were on the radio back and forth...he was
driving right through downtown New Orleans, military everywhere, roads
blocked, flood waters all around, shots being fired...it was crazy.
Luckily we never lost contact, because we were at headquarters in front
of a wall of maps, guiding him through the street maze to get him in the
area where the mules were supposed to be, and he was just driving for
all he was worth down there trying to do the best he could. "I remember
he said, "Okay, I'm on the street (Elysian Fields Ave.) tell me where to
turn and how far down they are...this is crazy down here, we need to
find these mules as quick as we can and get out of here."
"Okay, I see them, man they're all over the place!...I thought they were
supposed to be in a barn!...this is going to be tricky...hold on, I'll
get back to you". That was the last thing we heard for awhile until he
was able to get back with us about 20 minutes later. He and a
technician had them all loaded and were leaving New Orleans. Amazing
really, when you consider what they were up against."
"We should have well over 350 horses at Lamar Dixon by tonight"
continued Mortensen. "By the time this winds down, who knows...probably
close to 500...this weekend we should be getting close to having a
pretty good handle on having brought in what needed to be evacuated, and
knowing what is okay where it is for the time being. Right now, people
need to know that there horses are here (Lamar-Dixon) and that they can
come and claim them."
"We've been manning the horse rescue hotline 24 hours a day for about 6
or 7 days now and it's been non-stop." "There are literally thousands
of individuals that have called in wanting to help or in need of help.
We've simply divided them up into groups. Some are those that have
horses that need to be rescued. Others are those with available
resources, pasture, hay, stall space, and they want to make that
available to anyone who needs it. Others are those that want to send
money, and then we've got a lot of people who are willing to bring their
trailer and physically come and get involved."
"We (LSU) have been at this for quite awhile now and I think the most
challenging thing has simply been the communication among groups in
trying to coordinate the efforts and get everyone on the same page.
Nobody was ever really called up and placed "in charge", here, this has
simply been a massive effort by a lot of different groups working with
LSU from the beginning. It's a little hard to keep a handle on at
times, but we're not complaining. Its working for the horses, so its
working for us too."
"Every day we make several runs to various parts of New Orleans and the
surrounding area. Sometimes its 7 or 8 trips, sometimes more, it just
depends. Each evening we try to work as a team in headquarters and
assess who is still out there and who we can get to the following day.
Dr. Moore puts it all on a schedule, lining up volunteers, trailers,
veterinarians from the clinic and surrounding area, technicians,
supplies, etc. Then the following morning we all meet at Lamar Dixon,
the assignments are handed out and everyone hits the road. We won't
know what the outcome of the day's efforts are until everyone is back
that evening. Sometimes we come back with only a fraction of what we
went after. Other times we end up sending additional trailers into an
area where we ended up finding many more."
Here is a glimpse of what a typical schedule looks like for any given
day during the rescue process, the people involved to make this happen
on a daily basis, and the results of a day's effort.
Hurricane Katrina - Horse Rescue
Horse Hurricane Helpline @ LSU Equine Clinic (225-578-9501)