Horse owners near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, scrambled to react to substantial rainfall and heavy flooding that surprised them late last week. Now, even as the waters begin to subside, owners are challenged to locate animals displaced by the storm and rebuild their flood-ravaged properties.

On Thursday, Aug. 11, most horse owners in parishes near Baton Rouge had no idea what was ahead.

“We kept watching the (computer) models and everything looked like a typical summer storm,” said Rebecca McConnico, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, professor of equine medicine at Louisiana State University (LSU) and leader of the Louisiana State Animal Response Team. “But the models kept getting more and more purple.”

The cause was a slow moving low-pressure system hanging over the Gulf of Mexico that ultimately brought rains to Baton Rouge and nearby parishes, swelled the Amite and Comite rivers, and, by the weekend, flooded properties across the region.

“People literally got out of bed on Friday and stepped into flood water,” said veterinarian and horse owner Jay Addison, DVM, of Equi-Vet LLC and president of the Land Trust for Louisiana, a nonprofit land conservation organization. “We didn’t have time to evacuate; it was an unprecedented water event.”

As a result, all many owners, including Addison, could do was manage animals residing on flooded properties.

“Most of our farm was (on high ground), but the property was divided by a creek,” Addison said. “Horses that were in paddocks near the main barn were put in the barn.”

But by Monday, the water levels began ris