In early June I went on a trip as a chaperone for Peyton’s AFJROTC Marksmanship Camp. While we were in Anniston, Alabama we had some pretty bad weather. I was getting reports from home that tornados had touched down in our area, and trees were down everywhere. To be honest we were dreading having to go home from our gorgeous Airbnb and leave the comforts of our little mini vacation (because Chief Thomas was spoiling us). There were power outages everywhere, and Jason couldn’t get our generator started. I began begging people on Facebook to freeze water bottles and take them to put in our rabbit cages. I was terrified that I would return home to dead rabbits in the scorching high temperatures and super thick humidity.
Luckily when we got home all the rabbits were fine, and the power came back on within an hour of walking in the door after being off for four days. I honestly thought we were lucky to have missed the worst of it… but we didn’t. The worst of it was still to come.
We arrived home on Saturday June 17th around 6:00 pm. We were extremely tired, but the first thing I had to do was go to the barn to check on all the bunnies. The electricity came back on around 6:45 pm so I hopped in the shower and crawled into bed to watch television for the first time in a week. I must have fallen asleep because I woke up around midnight after hearing a noise outside my bedroom window. I quickly jumped out of bed and looked out the window, and I kept hearing a popping sound. I ran into the kitchen to grab a flashlight and run outside to see what was making that noise and I suddenly felt my heart sink. I traced the noise to a huge live oak tree that had a large crack in the trunk, and I realized in that moment that the tree was about to fall.
This was no small tree. We are talking about a 200 year old live oak in Louisiana, and the direction that it began to lean was straight over the bunny barn. I ran in the house and tried to wake up Jason, but he wouldn’t budge. For all I knew this thing could also fall on top of the house and right on top of him where he slept. The girls and I ran outside, and we kept trying to decide if we had time to get into the barn to get the rabbits out before the tree fell. But as soon as the thought entered our minds, the tree came down… right on top of the bunny barn. All we could do is watch it happen, and we did a lot of screaming.
Once the tree fell I went into panic mode. The way the tree landed on top of the barn, I just knew that all the bunnies were going to be gone. And I was terrified to go into the barn because it was unstable. So I did the only thing I knew to do… CALL ASHLEIGH!
My best friend Ashleigh came rushing over with her transport cages and she went into hyper mode. She basically told me and Peyton to get out of the way and she rushed into the unstable barn, plowing her way through the debris, and she began grabbing rabbits and handing them to me and Peyton to put in a transport cage. Some of the cages had to be cut with wire cutters to get the rabbits out. Ashleigh was able to pull out about ten of our lionheads, but the tree was blocking the rest of them. We honestly thought they were dead. There was no way they could have survived that…
I didn’t sleep all night. I cried and cried until the sun rose, and then I went to Facebook begging for help. I needed strong men and chainsaws. LOTS OF THEM. And when I tell you the calvary arrived, I am not exaggerating. I have never had people show up for me like they did for this. Within an hour of arriving, these guys had a path carved through the fallen tree and debris, a hole cut into the barn from the backside of the tree, and a path to remainder of the cages and rabbits. EVERY SINGLE RABBIT SURVIVED! We lost all of our cages, but not a single rabbit! It was definitely a God thing.
Not only did my community come to my rescue for these rabbits (literally) but the rabbit community showed up as well. One fellow rabbit breeder that I had never even met before showed up at my house that morning with several transport cages, a bag of Petrus rabbit food, multiple food and water cups, three hanging cages, and more. I almost cried. There were JUST ENOUGH holes for every single rabbit at that point. They were going to have to live in transport cages for a while… IN MY HOUSE… but they were alive and healthy.
The generosity didn’t stop there. As cleanup and construction of the new bunny barn got underway within the next few weeks, I went to Longview Tx for a rabbit show in July. Two of my fellow Lionhead rabbit breeders and exhibitors surprised me with goodies. I ended up coming home with an 8 hole stacker cage, a 2 hole stacker cage, a bag of hay, a transport cage, and an emergency kit for the rabbits. I also bought twelve more holes from Tort N Hare, so by the time I got home from the rabbit show I had almost enough holes to get all the rabbits out of the transport cages. I picked up some Tractor Supply cages to use temporarily as well.
For nearly a month I had 30 rabbits in my house. It was not pleasant to say the least, but they were all alive and that is all that mattered. Luckily we were insured, so we were able to rebuild. It has taken a while to replace everything that was lost. We are almost there. I will be picking up more cages next week from Tort N Hare.
I want to thank everyone who helped during this crisis. The way people showed up for me is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Seriously! THANK YOU!