Surviving a devastating fire – Part 3

Ophelia is found!

Recap from part two:

Around 4:30am, I was dragged away from the ongoing fire and chaos to my friends flat. Even though we couldn’t sleep, we still needed some rest. But of course, I couldn’t keep Ophelia out of my mind.

I was both worried sick, but something inside me told me she was ok, she was still inside the house. I had to keep the faith in her. I just had to!

Around 8:30 Sunday morning I put the boys back in the stroller and headed to the house. In the daylight it looked so bad – but I couldn’t lose hope of finding Ophelia.

The boarded up window is my bedroom where Ophelia was found

The smell hit me first – the smell of burning wood, charred smell – but not like that of a campfire. I wouldn’t say I was wandering around aimlessly, but I did kind of feel like it wasn’t real, that I was looking from outside of my own self. Smoke still filled the air.

When I saw the side of the house where my bedroom was, I kind of gasped – it hit me on just how devastating this fire was.

I was given permission to use the next door neighbors rear area to look for Ophelia and call her name. My heart was racing. Somehow I knew she was still here. Ophelia is not the type to go outside, especially if people are around, and there were a lot of people around.

I suspected that she was in the cat room (the back bedroom) somewhere.

I was calling her name for what seemed like an eternity – but in reality it was likely just a few minutes. Rocky meowed a few times (I had the stroller near the back wall), I was hoping maybe she would hear him and “pop out”. Of course I couldn’t imagine the trauma she suffered – I didn’t even know if she was injured or not!

My dear friend Susan had contacted one of our FaceBook groups to ask if anyone knew of someone that might be able to help with finding a cat after a fire. Almost immediately “Anthony Cat-Man” responded.

He arrived on the scene ready for action. I told him where I thought she would be, and gave him an overview of the layout of the house.

My heart was pounding as he snuck up the back steps and into the house.

Ophelia is quite timid at the best of times (until she gets to know you), and with this situation, I truly didn’t know what to expect or think.

Time slowed down, it seemed that Anthony was in the house for so long – I still don’t know exactly how long he was there.

I had told Anthony to try the “cat room” first, but Ophelia wasn’t there. He made his way into my bedroom. It was one of the worst hit rooms – my bed had been upturned, the mattress, mattress topper, comforter and loads of pillows were piled up under it – and that is where Anthony found Ophelia – ALIVE!

Anthony emerged out of the back door – and Opehlia was with him – he had her by the scruff of her neck – she was howling and growling. As he was trying to climb up the backyard wall, I leaned over to grab her. She sunk her teeth into my hand, as I went to grab one hand across her chest, and the other to take from Anthony with the scruff of her neck. I didn’t let go – the bite was deep – very deep. But I didn’t care – I had her!

I moved quickly, and shoved her into the stroller with Rocky and Shady. Rocky immediately sat over her, like the protective brother he is.

As I closed the stroller zipper, the blood started. It was bad. But I didn’t care.

The wave of relief, gratitude and so many emotions just came over me. How could I ever thank Anthony enough for rescuing my baby girl?

I phoned my parents, I don’t remember the pain in my hand, my emotions were running high. I broke down in tears on the phone – “I got her, I got her – she is alive!”

I threw my bloody hand around Anthony, I didn’t realize at the time how bad the bite was.

As we both walked down the driveway of the neighbors house, there were still FDNY and FDNY ambulance outside the house. I knocked on the door and asked the guys if they could fix me up temporarily. They did a little work on me, just to get things cleaned and covered. Anthony stayed outside the ambulance while I was inside getting seen to. The EMS guy asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital – I refused, I said I just needed it cleaning up a bit, and I would sort it out later.

I came out of the ambulance, I called Susan – “we have her!”

I hugged Anthony again, and then headed back to my friends house. We stopped off at my vets on 13th Ave, they took a look at Ophelia, she was petrified, eyes as wide at quarters. But she was ok!

Once we got back to my friends house, I opened up the stroller – the boys jumped out, Ophelia was sat cowered in the back of the stroller. I stroked her and in a low voice kept telling her “It’s ok, you are ok”. I got her out of the stroller. She was so frightened, but then she saw the boys on the sofa. I cuddled her, her little heart was pounding, but she was now back with us safe.

Rocky was much more relaxed, now that his little sister was with us. Shady was just Shady – he really helped with keeping them both calm.

All of a sudden I was just so tired – emotions, lack of sleep, worry, anxiety – it all hit me. My friend and I took a much needed nap. We slept for about 3 hours (maybe more). I was on the sofa, and the cats were at my feet.

The trauma of the fire still hadn’t hit me – all I was concerned about was Ophelia. Some other friends came around and there were hugs and tears. A friend brought round a first aid kit. Now my hand was hurting – really starting to hurt. I took off the temporary bandage, and cleaned it all up, and put on antiseptic and a fuller bandage and took some pain killers. I didn’t care how much it hurt – I was relieved.

Me and my cats were reunited. And we were going to be ok.

I am so grateful to so many people – Susan for letting me use her apartment, Anthony for rescuing Ophelia, Jenn for setting up the GoFundMe. So many more people for their kindness, support and generosity – I will blog more about this in another blog-episode.

I will end this episode with this – In a year of suffering, a global pandemic, humans still came to help – Humanity touched me, and I will be eternally grateful.

Published by laurah66

Born and raised in England - moved to the US in 1998 - traveled all over. Animal lover, love to knit, write. Enjoy music, cooking, and since 2021 I have changed my lifestyle to include exercise as a priority in my life. I believe in humanity

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