Florida wildlife preserve and petting zoo recovering from series of storms
MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. - Brevard County took a pretty big hit in this week’s storms. Some of the areas that sustained damage were still recovering from last year’s hurricanes.
One of those spots is Romelia Farms, a nonprofit wildlife preserve and petting zoo in Merritt Island.
After Hurricanes Nicole and Ian, Romelia Farms’ owners were able to raise the ground level on some enclosures.
But it still wasn’t enough. As Lina Graves, the President of the Preserve puts it, it’s hard to plan for something they didn’t know was going to happen.
"It’s been pretty crazy the last couple of days," she said."It’s too much water in a short period of time."
It wasn’t just the rain that caused problems this time around; the wind in the area was beastly.
"Things were flying all over the place, we have trees down, all kinds of things down," detailed Graves. "We’re flooded here where our animals are, we’re flooded out back."
The preserve’s Vice President, Jeremy Graves, says they’ve been working hard to pump water out. They got a better pumping system in places after the hurricanes.
He explained Romelia Farms has an entire strategy in place for what to do and where to put the animals in case of major storms like hurricanes.
But they simply were not expecting the weather to get as severe as it did.
"It definitely caught us off guard," he said. "We do have reactive systems in place to be able to manage it after the fact, but we never like to be caught in that place."
Thankfully, none of the animals were hurt.
The horses are happy. They get to roam freely, so they have more access to shelter than they would in the pasture.
The cows are trying to stay out of the standing water; they can get infections if they don’t.
The petting zoo area had just been renovated after the hurricanes, so the goats, emu, fox, lemur, various birds, and lots of other animals at the Preserve are all doing fine.
Romelia Farms has an 80s Prom Night-themed fundraiser coming up Saturday, April 29th. There are still tickets available for that evening, and they’re hoping to make it through Saturday’s storms unscathed in the afternoon in preparation for the fundraiser in the evening, which will be held indoors.