n Tryon, NC, the show will go on. At least, that's the plan for now, despite the threat of Hurricane Florence and the still-ongoing construction at Tryon International Equestrian Center. The World Equestrian Games are still set to take place, and spectators are rolling in for the first day of competition tomorrow.
Watch our first impressions of the grounds, and the hurricane preparedness plan, here:
Officials from the FEI and TIEC addressed concerns on Tuesday afternoon in a media briefing. Here are some of the highlights from the conference:
When will competition will be halted in the case of bad weather?
"If there is thunder and lightning, we will not be active in any rings. If it’s just rain, I’ve learned that horses don’t mind that one bit. We’ll manage that very carefully but our first priority is safety for our horses, safety for our riders, and safety for all of you." - Sharon Decker, COO, Tryon International Equestrian Center
The safety plan for seeking shelter at TIEC:
"We do have a number of locations on the property should there be a major storm or major impact from Hurricane (Florence) including our 300,000 square foot covered arena, including this building (adjacent to the Tryon Arena)… the basement of the Legends lobby is a mass commissary kitchen area and large underground area. There are plenty of safe places here. We had one instance here (before) where we did have to evacuate the arena and we were able to do that – we had about 12,000 on that particular night – and we were able to move them to safe places easily. We have a very strong emergency plan, a robust plan that we presented to the FEI as we were preparing for these games working closely with federal, state and local law enforcement public safety officials. We have a written plan that we are prepared to follow." - Sharon Decker
The full contingency plan in the case of severe weather is as follows, according to an official statement from the venue:
- Accommodating all horses on-venue in permanent barns
- Moving grooms accommodated on-site to permanent buildings on-venue
- Advising on secure sheltering locations for all personnel
- Continuing discussions with airports and Emirates airline (through Peden Bloodstock/Dutta Corporation) on any necessary steps regarding horse arrivals/departures.
- Ensuring smaller tents in vendor area are tie-strapped together for security (large tents are designed to withstand winds of up to 90mph)
- Carrying out additional drainage/water channeling
- Purchasing additional fuel tanks and fill all fuel tanks
- Preparing to remove fence scrim already installed
- Taking down flags
Why isn't everything at TIEC built or completed yet?
"When we took on the Games we did have big ideas and big dreams and still do. This is not a one-time event for us; this is a long-term facility with a grand vision for bringing horse sport here from around the world forever. We had less than 22 months to prepare, and we just couldn’t quite accomplish what we set out to do. We knew that sport was first and foremost, so the priority was given to the preparation of the courses. That became very challenging for us this winter because we had more rainfall in the first five months of this year than is typically here in 12 months of the year. We lost a tremendous amount of time in construction during these winter months, then we had a real challenge this summer with heat and limited hours we could work during the day." - Sharon Decker
Stands were packed this evening in the Tryon Stadium as the opening ceremonies marked the official start of the Games. Tomorrow, competition kicks off with dressage, endurance, and reining. Stay tuned to NoelleFloyd.com for updates each day.
Shannon Brinkman photo.