After the May 3, 1999, tornado ripped through Moore, the Orr family opened its stables to neighbors seeking shelter for displaced horses.
Now that same favor is being extended to the Orr family.
Monday's tornado demolished The Orr Family Farm, a tourist attraction known for its petting zoo, animal barn and train and carousel rides. The tornado also leveled 172 stalls at the Orr's nearby thoroughbred horse training facility.
An estimated 80 to 100 horses were on the property when the tornado struck, killing dozens of animals. The 34 surviving horses were kept in a barn on the farm Wednesday, with hopes they will soon be taken to a new location.
Seven of the surviving horses belong to the Orr Family. After witnessing the devastation at the farm and the Celestial Acres Training Facility, Mary Shappee, a friend and owner of Majic Stables in Norman, offered to take in four of the wounded ponies and a Morgan horse. The Orr's other two ponies weren't injured and are being cared for by another friend.
“They are really good people, and they really care about their animals. And, they really care about people. They would do the same for me,” Shappee said. “They have offered that if we ever had a flood they would help us, because we are in a floodplain.”
Horse lovers pitch in
Shappee, who saw several horses euthanized on Tuesday, said people from around the world have reached out to her to assist the horses that survived the tornado.
This week, she anticipates the arrival of a group from Tulsa with supplies for the horses. A Morgan horse show in Ohio is hosting a raffle for supplies, she said.
“It's so expensive to care for these animals when they're injured, and people from all over the country are stepping up,” said Shappee, who plans to keep the Orr family's horses until they are healed and have a new home.
“People have come forward and really dug in. They're willing to get their hands dirty. It was a really huge tornado, and it wasn't enough warning for people with livestock to do anything, and there probably never will be. If something like that is headed for you, all you can do is pray.”
Shelby Orr, 20, whose parents own and operate the family farm, said the Orrs are grateful for the support.
“We had 80-plus people from high schools and colleges come to the farm and volunteer to clean up,” she said. “We just want to say thank you for everything.”