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Press Release


Hurricane Frances

Hurricane Frances

Hurricane Frances

Hurricane Frances

Water for Horses

Hurricane Frances

Hurricane Frances

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Hurricane Frances

Written by: Kenneth Kraus
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2004-09-19

Wellington, Florida – September 19, 2004 - The Village of Wellington, like much of Palm Beach County sustained major damage as a result of Hurricane Frances but luckily with no serious injuries or loss of life.

The Wellington equestrian community came through the storm pretty much as other areas. Extensive tree loss and some property damage was reported. The Equestrian Center lost a number of trees and had to cancel events through the end of September. The National Horse Show, scheduled for late November will not be affected by the damage from Hurricane Frances.

According to officials, the bill for repairs will top out over $5 million dollars with more than 25 businesses and 16 public structures reporting hurricane related damage. 18 buildings in the Village are now deemed unsafe for occupancy.

The loss of trees was extensive and Mayor Tom Whenam said that the loss of trees was particularly tough to handle considering Wellington’s designation as a “Tree City, USA.”

Palm Beach County officials estimate that Frances left over 3.5 million cubic yards of yard waste. That's about 125,000 dump-truck loads.

In Martin and St. Lucie counties, the estimate is 2 million cubic yards — each. All the waste must be meticulously tracked because it means big bucks through federal reimbursement. Combined, the three counties could get $150 million or more to cover the Frances haul.

The second first day of school finally came on September 14th for about 173,000 Palm Beach County students, who had been in class only 16 days before Hurricane Frances hit. School buses dodged uncollected trees and branches and averaged 5 mph to 10 mph slower than usual because of inactive traffic signals. Some were delayed 20 minutes, and that could happen for the rest of the week.

On Friday, September 17th power was finally restored to all but a few Palm Beach County residents.

As a historical note, after Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in August of 1992, FPL crews worked for 35 days to restore power to 1.4 million customers in five counties.

At Lion Country Safari the damages are being estimated at $750,000. The worst disaster in the 37 year history of the park. Luckily none of the animals were killed, but, hundreds of trees and 30 percent of the animal shelters were destroyed. Rotting fish and meat permeated the air as refrigeration trucks were brought in for the new supply. The park remains without power.

A glance at other communities around the county:


With $26 million in damages to residential and commercial properties and $1 million at public facilities. The Busch Wildlife Sanctuary sustained substantial damage.

Lake Clarke Shores

Police station closed until further notice, officers working out of city hall.


$25 million in structural damage. 8 Condo apartment buildings destroyed.

Delray Beach

All beaches closed until further notice.

A special equestrian hero during the storm was Stefan Slegers.

He handles the stables in Wellington for the Goldstein’s Starrwyn Farms. During the build up to and even approaching the height of the storm Stefan was helping people get their horses into safe shelters.

He spoke with Ken Kraus at

“I started shuttering up on Wednesday. I was all by myself. But, then I quit because so many other people needed my help. But, it all works out well, because after I got them situated, they came here and helped me finish up. Sid helped and Phil, the blacksmith.”

The McGeough’s were one family that needed new housing for their string of show jumpers and through the efforts of realtor, Karen Connelly, they were put in touch with each other.

“Karen actually came here with them and they asked me if I had space available, so I immediately called the Goldstein’s and they were wonderful, said they had no problem with it so we moved them right in. We got them all moved in, ahead of the storm on Thursday.”

When I talked with Julia and her Mom, they told me that Stefan, in addition to helping them and others around the Village community, he also had to gather up all of the outlying furniture and stable items, and “was non-stop from morning till night, until Frances hit.”

Stefan told me the horses were calm and cool most of the night, not really affected by the noise or the rain.

“You know, these new barns are pretty well built, there was no wind or water damage anywhere here, and at most places, it was great to come out in the morning and see that.”

When Stefan told me that he rode out the hurricane by himself in his apartment by the barn, I asked him if he was scared.

“Are you kidding? I was so tired, I slept like a rock!”

One disconcerting note. Stefan also reported on a few non-heroes of the storm.

“Kenny, you wouldn’t believe how many people I called that wouldn’t let me bring horses on to their property. They wanted nothing to do with other people’s problems, I guess. Thank God for people like the Goldstein family.”

Hurricane Frances continued to affect equestrians even after leaving Florida.

In Camden, South Carolina on Tuesday a tornado struck Evergreen Farm tearing the roof off of the facility and landing Ann and Ralph Alfano’s six horse trailer on the roof. Humans and horses were all ok.


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