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‘I started panicking and hyperventilating’: Kingston-area farmer reflects on barn collapsing with animals inside

The Halloween night storm that ripped through eastern Ontario and Quebec left one farmer panicking as she awoke to a collapsed barn and animals trapped inside.

As many eastern Ontario trick-or-treaters were winding down their Halloween night, a storm was brewing overhead, forcing children to end their night early and run for cover.

Just as the children escaped the powerful winds and horizontal rain, many farmers were following suit, quickly herding their animals into the barn.

READ MORE: Rain in store for Kingston region on Halloween, strong winds expected overnight

Environment Canada sent out an advisory earlier in the day saying that winds could exceed 90 km/h in the Kingston, Ont., area and could pose a risk to buildings, such as roof shingles and windows. Although, when Jodie Lappin woke up the next morning, she didn’t only have roof shingles and windows affected by the storm, her barn — which housed six horses and two donkeys — had collapsed.

“I started panicking and hyperventilating,” said Lappin as she broke down in tears.

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Lappin said because of the way the barn collapsed, the horses were able to escape harm-free, but the donkeys weren’t as fortunate.

“I couldn’t lift the wall to get her out and wasn’t until the firefighters came and started working that we realized he was stuck in their too, but we just couldn’t see him because he was covered in debris and we were only able to see a tiny bit of his face,” said Lappin, recalling the moment she saw both donkeys that morning.

As the firefighters and Lappin struggled to free the donkey from the debris, a neighbour came driving up the long gravel driveway on his tractor to help in the recovery. With teamwork, the group managed to dig out a path for both donkeys, McCormick and Rory, both of whom miraculously suffered only minor injuries, Lappin said.

“I was blown away by how the firefighters and my neighbours responded. They were unbelievable.”

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READ MORE: Halloween 2019: Southern Ontario forecast to get wet, warm, windy weather

Lappin has rescued and adopted animals for nearly 20 years. Her Elgin, Ont., farm is home to everything from pigs, horses, donkeys, ducks, ponies and goats. A veterinary technician by day, Lappin spends her remaining hours on the farm, tending to the well-being of her animals.

“When we were kids, she would bring home everything! like caterpillars. She’s always had a passion for it. We all love animals, but she took it to another level,” said her sister Kelly Fallis.

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On Sunday, Lappin said on multiple occasions that she is trying to avoid attention, although her sister, Kelly, has taken it upon herself to create a go-fund-me page to help rebuild the barn.
Telling Global News that even though we don’t want people’s pity, these animals need a home before the harsh winter conditions begin and that every cent donated will go towards building stables.

The horses and donkeys are currently sharing one stable that is separated with both horse and donkey pens. A tight squeeze, but Lappin says if they can’t raise the $12,000 needed to build another shelter, this will have to do until the money is raised.

“All of my money goes into these animals,” said Lappin after being asked how she affords the 69 animals on the property.