Hurricane Florence Threatens Delay to World Equestrian Games
Last night (11th September) at 11:15pm, a press conference was held to discuss the plan regarding the World Equestrian Games (WEG) and the impending weather due to Hurricane Florence. The hurricane is set to hit the east coast of the USA on Friday, with parts of the WEG hosting state already being evacuated.
Sharon Decker, Chief Operating Officer at Tyron International Equestrian Centre (TIEC), and Sabrina Ibanez, FEI Secretary General, hosted the press conference and reassured that they have a “robust plan” if the hurricane was to hit the area.
Decker explained that the competition was being held “inland some 350 to 400 miles from the mandatory evacuation areas”, adding that Tyron’s position in the bowl of the mountains means it has a less harsh environment than surrounding areas.
We are kind of a safe zone in a lot of ways — it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t get some wind and rain, but storms like this do not impact us in a significant way.”
In recent years, TIEC has become a “refuge for horses”, 600 horses and their families from five states, sheltering in the venue when Hurricane Irma hit the USA in August, last year.
Rain will not postpone the competition, Decker stating that “horses don’t mind that one bit”, although Decker eluded to thunder and lightning being possible causes for delays.
Sheltering plans for personnel and horses have already been put into place.
There are 1,288 permanent stalls on-site stalls and all barns are built in conformance with the International Building Code to withstand winds up to 90mph (144kph), so the horses are in the safest place here on site.”
There are also underground locations for horses which can be utilised, and it has been assured that horses can be accommodated if flights home are delayed.
Ibanez explained that delays may be on the horizon with predictions of bad weather over the course of the competition.
We have contingency plans in place and they are robust, this is not the first time we’ve had to deal with adverse weather conditions.” We have had to change schedules before, in Normandy [2014 WEG] and London [2012 Olympics] and it’s something we’re used to. This is an outdoor sport and these things are in place when it comes to the competition schedule.”
Options regarding competition, if bad weather does hit the area include reducing the distance of competition or moving the date of the competitions. If competitions are delayed, Decker assured that tickets for spectators will be honoured for the new schedule.
The press conference was concluded with a reassuring message to all attending the WEG in Tyron, this year;
You will be safe in the hotels in this area, but if you feel uncomfortable with where you are staying, tell me and let me help facilitate a relocation. We want you to feel safe here.”
The National Weather Service is continuing to provide the competition with frequent weather updates and official have confirmed that if the storm changes course, and poses more threat on the competition, frequent alerts and advice will be issued.
Image used for illustration purposes only.