WORTON — The severe weather that swept through the Worton-Still Pond-Kennedyville area May 29 left a path of destruction at Worthmore Equestrian Center.
The facility is well-known as home to the Kent Association of Riding Therapy and Bridges of Queen Anne’s County equine therapy programs.
Wind destroyed the 1,600-square foot indoor show barn, the outdoor arena and one horse paddock. Another paddock was damaged, five trees were felled along the front pasture fence and trees in the back pasture also were damaged, according to the farm’s owner Pam Kuster.
The old barn and granary are still standing.
Of the 44 horses that board there, only one was injured. Trojan Fan, a 12-year-old thoroughbred, was cut by flying debris, Kuster said.
Dr. Jenny Wright of Wright Veterinarian Services, who lives nearby on Urieville Lane, was onsite soon after the storm struck at the dinnertime hour and tended to Trojan Fan’s lacerations.
“We’re confident he will pull through,” Kuster said in a telephone interview Monday.
Programming at the equestrian center has been halted.
“We are unable to work at this point,” Kuster said.
Kuster said she hopes to be able to run some of the programs this summer, but is trying to figure out how to make that happen.
KART’s summer program is likely to be cancelled this year, according to Kuster.
Marco Belperio, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International-certified riding instructor for KART, said the summer program at Easterseals Camp Fairlee also likely will be shut down this year.
“We have clients who need us and are devastated by this,” Kuster said. “It’s going to have to be a new normal here for a while.”
The most immediate concern is the cleanup, which began in earnest Saturday with the help of community volunteers.
Kuster said the county’s Planning, Housing and Zoning Office and the Health Department expedited the demolition permit, which allowed the cleanup to start as quickly as it did. She also cited the outpouring of community support.
On the night of the storm, people stopped by the farm to check on the welfare of the Kusters and the horses, and many other people telephoned.
“This is a great community, so many people offered their facilities to us and (the cleanup has) really been all hands on deck, which is fantastic,” Kuster said.
Kuster said she hopes everything will be rebuilt by the fall.
“All it takes is money,” she said. “Insurance doesn’t cover everything.”
While owners Pam and Eric Kuster have insurance, she said they will not be reimbursed for lost revenue. The cost of cleanup, which Pam Kuster said is estimated to be $100,000, is not entirely covered by the insurance coverage, she said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to allow tax-deductible donations for the rebuilding of Worthmore. Donations to the KART and Bridges programs also will be gratefully accepted. The link for the GoFundMe is on the Worthmore Equestrian Center Facebook page.
Worthmore also has a Venmo account for donations, under the username WorthmoreEquestrian.
The May 29 rain and wind storm lasted about 10 to 15 minutes, and seemed to be isolated.
Kuster and her son Scott had just returned home from Chestertown, where there had not been a storm. Kuster’s husband was also at home when the storm hit, working in an upstairs office.
There are surveillance cameras in various locations at Worthmore, including the show barn. Pam Kuster said the video footage showed the roof coming off of the building at 6:28 p.m.
The Kusters purchased the 50-acre farm in 2003, and have added stalls, fences and riding rings.
This is Worthmore’s “first bout with major damage,” Pam Kuster said on the night of the storm.
Felled trees, power outages and minor structural damage resulted from the derecho and Super Storm Sandy, both in 2012. Last week’s storm took the loss to a new level.
Even so, Kuster considered the Worthmore community to be fortunate.
“The important thing to remember is we’re still here to talk about it,” she said.
Trish McGee contributed to this story.