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This morning it was my privilege to work alongside about a dozen of my colleagues from Heifer International headquarters, picking up limbs and debris left by the recent severe storms that hit Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas. We joined forces with numerous ranch staff and volunteers as well as members of the community.

The din of chainsaws was constant background noise as we stacked firewood and piled branches to be burned at some future date. Utility crews worked nearby, restoring electricity to buildings still in the dark, and all around us were sheep, goats, cows, water buffalo, turkeys, and even a camel. These are among the Ranch's best-known residents, and they came through the storm unscathed.

It was hard not to feel overwhelmed by the scope of the damage. While none of the Ranch's guests, staff, or volunteers were injured, numerous barns and outbuildings were destroyed. The yurts in Global Village #2 were flattened, and the Ranch lost countless large shade trees. There are more photos of the damage and the cleanup effort below.

During my time at Heifer Ranch this morning, I couldn't help but notice two things:

  1. The infectious optimism. The Ranch staff tell me the property is already vastly improved thanks to the hard work of volunteer firefighters, church groups, utility crews and neighbors. Michelle Izaguirre, who directs Heifer's learning centers, says the Ranch will reopen Monday. In the second Global Village, temporary structures will house groups where yurts once stood (watch video here).
  2. The fact that it could have been much, much worse. Buildings can be rebuilt, and trees can be replanted. Our thoughts and prayers are now with the numerous families throughout the region who suffered tremendous losses of life and property due to recent tornadoes. 

Times like these remind me we are all connected as one large family. Thanks for being there for us.   

Read more blog posts about the Heifer Ranch cleanup here.  


Casey Neese