‘Hoping against hope,' couple searched for beloved cats
NEWCASTLE — A Newcastle couple whose home was destroyed by a tornado were devastated that their two Siamese cats were missing and feared dead. Twenty-seven hours after the storm hit, the cats were found safe and well beneath the rubble.
“For my wife, those cats were her babies. You should have seen her face when we pulled those boards up and the cats were there,” Richard Cope said.
A tornado wiped out or severely damaged about 34 homes Monday in the Country Club Estates and Cedar Creek housing additions, just north of State Highway 37, in Newcastle.
Nothing but rubble remained of the Copes' house in Country Club Estates, but Janet Cope said she didn't mind the loss of property so much.
“It was my cats that I missed,” she said.
In the pouring rain Tuesday, Richard Cope searched through debris, with the help of neighbors, expecting to find the lifeless bodies of Rio and Loki, who had been a part of their family for the past 10 years.
Janet Cope sat in the couple's car and watched, unable to help search because of what she was afraid she'd find.
“I'm hoping against hope that by some miracle they'll still be alive,” she said.
When Richard Cope lifted the last piece of splintered wood from where a south bedroom used to stand, he uncovered the two cats — hunkered together, cold, wet and hungry, but alive.
“I couldn't believe it,” Richard Cope said. “They weren't in real good shape at first, but they were alive. And now (on Thursday), they're doing just fine.”
Janet Cope cradled the cats like wounded infants as she carried them from the sodden mess that used to be their house, Richard Cope said.
“I know that in the big picture, when you think of those children who died in Moore, our loss is insignificant. But, to us, those cats were our kids. We are so grateful to have them back and for them to be all right,” he said.
Janet Cope said losing the house was nothing “compared to what it would be like to lose my cats.”
Jane Glenn Cannon, Staff Writer