Exactly one year ago, Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Ark. got a surprise visitor: a tornado ripped through and took down buildings and trees. Today, thanks to a lot of help and hard work, Heifer Ranch is repaired and thriving.
Although the twister destroyed several buildings, tore up dozens of trees and scattered some chickens as it ploughed across the Ranch, all the vital components of the educational facility were spared and no one was hurt. One year later, the Ranch is healed and ready for a busy summer.
Ranch Director Keisha Patterson says the Ranch was able to recover quickly and focus on teaching about hunger and poverty due to the support of the local community and the entire Heifer “family.” Headquarters staff helped with the immediate clean up. In addition, dozens of local volunteers came out to clear the debris and mend fencing, some bringing their own equipment.
After the tornado hit on April 25, 2011, five chickens were unaccounted for, but otherwise all workers, visitors and animals were safe. The Ranch shut down for one week in order to clear debris, and months later, after the summer’s tourism traffic decreased, the Ranch brought in heavy machinery to take out tree stumps and fill in holes.
Patterson says she is grateful for the community spirit that helped the Ranch recover. Throughout the summer, visiting educational groups with service components devoted their time to helping clean up the Ranch.
Ten structures on the Ranch were destroyed or damaged by the twister. Now, the site of one old barn has already been converted into pasture. Patterson said visitors today will see a different landscape. “They’ll be able to see clearer, because the trees that used to stand along the entrance are pasture now.”
“I am thankful that no people were injured,” Patterson said. “We did have a group here from L.A. and they were eating dinner when the tornado warning hit. But we have safety measures in place and the employees and volunteers acted as they should have. They were able to get everyone to safety.”
If you’re not familier with the work of the Learning Center at Heifer Ranch, check out its programs here. The Ranch is hands-on and fun, complete with gardens and animals including water buffalo, camels and traditional farm animals like pigs, goats and more.