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Cat found alive in debris 16 days after EF-5 tornado - KOAM TV 7

Cat found alive in debris 16 days after EF-5 tornado demolishes Joplin home

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Photos by Suzy Hoskins, Terrla's sister. Photos by Suzy Hoskins, Terrla's sister.
JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Like most Joplin residents, it's been a tough couple of weeks for Terrla and J.E. Cruse.

After they heard the second tornado siren go off on Sunday May 22, they found their dog and took cover about a minute before the tornado hit.

"We had a basement so we were very fortunate," Terrla said in a phone interview on Thursday.

Their home at 2417 South Joplin was destroyed in the EF-5 tornado.  They registered with FEMA, filed their insurance, and have been able to find several items in the rubble.

Unfortunately, one of their cats was dead and a second cat, 13 year old Laverne, was still missing.  They checked the Joplin Humane Society a couple of times, but with 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 through what used to be their home one last time.

"She never said that she went back to look for her," Terrla's sister-in-law, Jennifer Long said in a phone interview Thursday.  "She just kind of assumed she hadn't make it."

"We knew FEMA was coming in and we had only a limited about of time," Terrla said.  "My sister-in-law (on the phone) asked 'what would you do if Laverne poked her head up and started meowing?'"

About five minutes later they heard a cat meow.

"I thought it was a neighbors cat," Terrla said.

They followed the meows but couldn't find the cat.  After a few minutes the cat stopped meowing.

Thinking maybe they had crushed it even more, Terrla told "I said a little prayer and said 'please meow one more time'".

A few minutes later they heard the cat meow again.

Wedged under the debris was Laverne.

Hungry and dehydrated, Terrla took Laverne to the vet and she is now doing fine.

"(Terrla) was thrilled - I could tell she had been crying," Jennifer said.  "She was very excited.  They hadn't planned on going back at all and they went back one more time and they found her."

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