Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Horses Temporarily Displaced by Flooding Are Returned Home

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Horses Temporarily Displaced by Flooding Are Returned Home

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS COUNTY * The liver chestnut mare backed out slowly, somewhat hesitant and a little shaky as she plodded down the trailer to an owner waiting to return her to the horse stall vacated last week as floodwater drew near.

"There's my girl," Sue Maune said, patting Wheezy a bit before taking the lead rope. "Look where you are. You're home."

Home for Wheezy is Kraus Farms, near Interstate 44 and Highway 141 in southwestern St. Louis County, where flooding forced the evacuation of 180 horses last week.

Owners Jay and Tim Kraus began preparing for what lay ahead about two weeks ago when local forecasts included a prediction of flood levels exceeding those of 1982.

It took the Krauses and their family, friends and volunteers the better part of Dec. 27 to load the animals on trailers bound for higher ground. The trip to a hay farm in Pacific and other locations included numerous detours to dodge flood conditions encountered along the way.

By Saturday, the water had receded and cleanup at the farm began. And on Sunday, the horses returned to Kraus Farm at a rate of 24 each hour.

The arduous process has become somewhat routine.

The farm has flooded four other times, the worst of it in 1982, Jay Kraus said. That flood destroyed three buildings and the hay crop, and was followed by an equally destructive flood in 1983.

Water this time was nearly 5 feet higher than in 1982, he said.

One barn had to come down after water last week covered a substantial number of buildings and stalls. The Krauses await a complete damage estimate.

"This is the worst it's ever been," Jay Kraus said. Even so, with the assistance of dozens of people through the weekend, Kraus Farms could well resume normal operations within a matter of days.

Equestrian lessons may resume as early as Tuesday.

"We never dreamed we'd get back here so quickly," Maune said as she got Wheezy settled in. "We're happy to be back."

Deep roots

The original family horse ranch and stables began in 1936. In the 1950s, patriarch Darwin Kraus separated property for the boarding facilities and named it Kraus Farms.

His sons have run the business for about 20 years. …

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