Early Monday morning, heavy rain fell in North Harris County causing Cypress Creek to come out of its banks. Many people’s homes and property were flooded, but the biggest operation triggered by the flooding was the rescue of nearly 70 horses from the Equestrian Center owned by Darolyn Butler. The facility is located on Cypresswood Drive and Cypress Creek just north of FM 1960. Butler said they evacuate at least twice a year. Sunday night, she said, she stayed up watching the weather forecasts and went to bed about 2 a.m. Monday. At 3 a.m., she woke, and it was already too late to even move the horse trailers. She said they immediately went outside and began moving horses. Then, some of the horses broke out and turned to rescue horses in the high water. Others were pushed to higher ground and are now roaming the woods.
Members of the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office responded to the scene very early Monday. With hundreds of rescues in the county, they were still able to pull together resources to get a rescue operation going and save the horses. Boats were brought in from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and Northeast Volunteer Fire Department. Other volunteers were welcomed in, including Montgomery County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts, who responded along with Wade Willis, who assisted using an airboat, just as they did when the Trinity River flowed out of its banks in 2015, displacing hundreds of heads of cattle that had to be rescued from an area along US 90 between Dayton and Liberty.
Later ind the day Monday, the horse emergency was posted on social media, and the “save the horses” theme spread like wildfire, and people began to show up with trailers and boats. This also turned into a crowd control issue for Harris County Precinct 4, as people tried to jump into the swift water to rescue the horses. The deputies continued handling the situation, even though many of their fellow officers were involved in other rescue operations.
One man, Justin, who said he was a swimmer in the military and participated in Iron Man competitions, jumped into the swift current and swam to one horse many believed to be dead within minutes, because it was hung up in a tree. He reached the horse and guided it back near the road, where several people helped guide it to shallow water. There, with some help, the horse stood up and was loaded into a trailer.
Several other horses were also rescued, or seen swimming downstream.
At 4 p.m., almost all of the 75 horses were accounted for. Ten remained in stalls under the owner’s home, and one climbed the stairs onto the porch of the home.
Still many others on the scene question why the horses were not moved earlier, especially when alerts specific to Cypress Creek went out at 3 a.m. which already showed the 2 a.m. level at over 80 feet. Others blamed the Lake Conroe Dam for releasing water. Lake Conroe Dam, however, dumps into the San Jacinto River. Action on the dam could take as long as three days to make it to Humble.