What Hurricane Matthew Forced Me To Leave Behind

Cats are well-known for survival; nine lives right? When it comes to thunderstorms, cats can be stealthy about hiding, that’s for sure. I may sound like I’m justifying my actions here, but it’s true. I know it’s traumatizing to imagine abandoning your pets in an emergency, but in some cases it has to happen.

When Hurricane Matthew turned out to be real bad and headed towards Daytona Beach, Florida, my roommate and I realized we really had a lot more preparation that needed to be done. My roommate and I figured we would be safe in our apartment since it’s on the second floor and there aren’t many windows, but when it came down to our location we really started worrying. As soon as evacuation notices really started appearing, my roommate decided to take up her boyfriend’s offer to go down to his parents’ house in Port St. Lucie. After realizing I would be stranded, she asked for me to join them and his parents didn’t seem to mind. But there was only one thing we couldn’t figure out: what about my cat?

We definitely are not monsters who would just dump the cat on the side of the road or in the river, so we prepped our apartment interior as well as we could in such short amount of time between classes and the storm. We were still packing our bags and our apartment up when our estimated time of departure rolled around so packing up the cat, although simple, was not our immediate worry. Yes, my cat is my biggest concern in my everyday life, but compared to securing shelter in this emergency, his safety would only be a pinch.

Gris (“Gree”) knew something big was happening and I wasn’t just setting him up in my room like any normal weekend venture. A blanket fort made for a relatively safe space in the event that my one bedroom window were to shatter due to the storm winds. He was really beginning to show some fear after he realized he really couldn’t hide in my bathroom and it broke my heart trying to calm him down. 

I knew Gris was going to be “A-Okay” with his setup, but I couldn’t help worrying about the safety of my fur-baby when I couldn’t even be 100% sure how safe I was. Hurricanes like Matthew cannot be taken lightly when it comes to safety and preparation and with unfortunate circumstances some tough decisions can, and do, arise. I had to make the risky decision to leave Gris in our home rather than risking losing him during travels or at a destination that I had no idea what to expect. Knowing my fur-baby and how he can handle most things, I felt pretty sure he would be there waiting for me when I got back after Hurricane Matthew made its way up the coast.

After a safe travel back home, the apartment was just as we left it. Only some of the trees had fallen and the buildings were safe and sound. The surrounding towns were not so lucky with a lot more beach erosion and flooding than Port Orange, but as a community we’re working together to make it all better. Unfortunately, Gris’ blanket fort did not survive, but Gris was well and happy to see me return. He also still had plenty of food and water to last him in case we were stuck down south a few extra days. He’s not normally much of a cuddler, but after I settled in and set up the apartment again, he was practically begging for constant attention. He’s been given some kitty cat treats and extra cuddles so he’s gonna be just fine. 

The real heartbreak of a devastating storm is having to leave behind a furry family member or even a cherished possession. I was so fortunate to have Hurricane Matthew spare my community of a true tragic disaster and to have my kitty cat survive the storm unscathed. Did I worry every waking moment throughout the storm about Gris’s safety knowing what was coming for him since the storm hit my shelter first? Absolutely. Have I stopped petting him since I’ve gotten back? Absolutely Not. Would I leave him in an emergency again? Only if I absolutely had no other options, because even though everything turned out alright, the “What-Ifs” were enough to break my heart.

Featured Image Via WeHeartIt.




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