Two weeks after an EF-5 tornado ripped through Joplin, Mo., residents are still sorting through the rubble, trying to pick up what remains of the lives they once knew. Many of them have also been trying to find pets that were lost in the chaos and destruction.
Terrla and J.E. Cruse were just such people.
When they heard the second tornado siren go off on Sunday, May 22, the couple grabbed their dog and rushed for cover, but they couldn’t find their two cats.
Their home was destroyed as the tempest raged on, but the couple and their dog survived. “We had a basement so we were very fortunate,” Terrla said. They got there just one minute before the tornado hit.
The couple managed to find several items in the rubble, including the body of one of their feline family members. But a second cat, 13-year-old Laverne, was still missing.
Terrla did check with the Joplin Humane Society a couple of times, hoping to be reunited with Laverne, but she had no luck.
“I didn’t think we’d find her, honestly,” Terrla said. “I just didn’t think she’d make it at all.”
On Tuesday, June 7, Terrla was digging one last time through the rubble that remained of her home, hoping to find a few more mementoes and paperwork before FEMA came into the area.
Terrla was at the site with her sister, Suzy Hoskins, and on the phone with her sister-in-law while she was searching. “My sister-in-law asked, ‘what would you do if Laverne poked her head up and started meowing?'”
Then, about five minutes later, Terrla and Suzy heard a meow.
“I thought it was a neighbor’s cat,” said Terrla.
The sisters worked their way to the source of the meowing, but they couldn’t find the feline.
After a few minutes, the meows stopped. Terrla feared that she had crushed the cat even more.
“I said a little prayer and said ‘please meow one more time’.”
Minutes later, they heard another meow and started digging … and found Laverne wedged under a pile of debris.
Terrla pulled the cat out and rushed the hungry and dehydrated Laverne to the vet. After getting some fluids, food, and a whole lot of TLC, Laverne is making an excellent recovery.
“[Terrla] was thrilled — I could tell she had been crying, said Jennifer. She was very excited. They hadnt planned on going back at all, and they went back one more time and they found her.