Days after violent wind gusts damaged property and knocked down trees across Vermont, a nonprofit animal sanctuary in Addison County is in recovery mode.
Kinder Way Farm Sanctuary in Middlebury is home to animals including a blind goat and a cow with dwarfism. At the sanctuary, farm animals get a second chance after neglect or abandonment — or maybe their caring owners just couldn’t keep them any longer.
Right before Christmas, the animals endured vicious winds that lashed Addison County, shredding structures and fencing at the sanctuary. The winds also tore the top off a yurt founders Erika and Mark Gutel would rent out to support the operation.
“It just sounded like a freight train outside the door, all night,” Erika Gutel recalled.
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Some of those gusts were so powerful they actually picked up the animals’ shelters and blew them clear across the street. Some of the pieces are now scattered in a field at the neighbor’s place.
The couple’s home was spared, the Gutels said, and no animals were hurt or killed. The animals now have makeshift shelters or have moved into tighter quarters that survived the storm.
“We have to be there for them,” Mark Gutel said of the animals, promising Kinder Way will rebuild. “That’s the one thing we are here at Kinder Way, is resilient.”
Already, more than $20,000 poured in through an online fundraiser for the nonprofit.
“It’s unbelievable, really,” Erika Gutel said of the generosity, noting it’ll help give the animals at Kinder Way Farm Sanctuary the quality of life they deserve. “We’re so grateful.”
Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets Anson Tebbetts urged farmers, maple sugarmakers and other producers who sustained damage in the pre-Christmas storm to contact their local Farm Service Agency office to see if they qualify for emergency assistance.
Tebbetts shared information about seeking assistance in a social media post: