Tuesday (Sept. 18) Update!
The Equiery spoke with FHNRMA superintendent Rachel Temby this morning and confirmed the following facts. Barn 3 of the “race barns” was the only structure on the property that was damaged by what is officially being called a “weather event.” The majority of the damage was to the south end of the barn affecting both sides of the barn. In addition to the roof and portions of the overhang being blown off, there is also electrical damage and some other pockets of damage to other areas of that same barn. The power to that barn is currently shut down and the area is roped off.
Temby confirmed that all horses stabled in the barn were unharmed. “We had a veterinarian come and assess each horse and all were declared ok,” she said. Temby and her team at Fair Hill have been busy checking trails and other areas of the property and have determined that the storm damage is isolated to the one barn and one tree in the Fair Grounds areathat was also blown over. Today they are focusing on stabilizing the barn and other immediate clean up tasks.
The National Weather Service has been contacted and all damage had been documented. It is NWS that official determines what type of weather event this storm is categorized as. The Equiery will continue to post updates here as they are made available.
Original Post Below (Monday, Sept. 17)
Around 3pm on Monday, September 17, an isolated tornado touched down briefly at the Fair Hill Natural Management Area in Elkton taking the roof of one of the barns. There were three groups of campers on location at the time of the incident and four horses were stabled in the damaged barn according to Equiery photographer Louisa Emerick, who headed to the area on behalf of The Equiery.
Emerick reported that the campers were busy taking cover in their vehicles during heavy rains when they heard a huge boom. Looking in the direction of the sound, they saw debris flying through the air but never actually saw the tornado. One camper from Marylander said, “It happened so fast and we all ran over to the sound. Thankfully, the horses were completely ok.”
The roof of the barn set closest to the racetrack was torn off, but the horses remained safe within the concrete walls of the barn stalls. The Maryland couple called the emergency number given to them by DNR and stated that within three minutes, three DNR vehicles and several personal arrived on the scene to help them. “Everyone was really calm and Rachel [Temby] took control of the situation quickly and was very helpful,” the Marylander stated. “We were all very impressed.”
Superintendent Temby and her team turned the power off to the damaged barn and helped the campers relocate their horses to other barns. In addition to the damaged roof, a port-a-john from the middle of the barn area was lifted and thrown against the affected barn and now lies under the fallen roof.
The various campers interviewed for this story wished to remain anonymous.