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Runtley’s Date With Irma

By RUNTLEY | Sep 27, 2017
Courtesy of: Sandi Appleby The six of us, all originally Harvey Cedars rescue cats, prepare to return home after Hurricane Irma forced our evacuation in Florida.

My name is Runtley. I am a tall, thin black cat, age 9. White whiskers and a really long tail keep me from looking like other black cats. I, along with five relatives, hail from Harvey Cedars, N.J. We have lived together on Florida’s west coast for many years. We take the weather for granted.

Every morning Dusty wakes us up at 6:30 a.m. She goes to the back sliding doors, which lead to a small lanai (screened-in porch) and a smaller pool. She greets the sunrise with “huh woe, huh woe.” That is how Mom and Dad know it is time for them to open the door and let us out into the fresh morning air. (Sheba is a hermit so she never leaves the bedroom. However, she does watch us out there.)

Earlier this month, we heard Mom and Dad discussing someone named Irma. They felt that it was a major storm coming our way, possibly followed by Jose. They watched the TV every morning at 11 and afternoon at 5 so that they would know in which direction Irma was headed.

For quite a while they thought it was headed up Florida’s east coast and then through the middle of the state. We have friends in all of those areas. Suddenly it turned toward the west coast on or about Friday, Sept. 8. Aunt Linnea and Uncle Nick begged Mom and Dad to come stay with them about 8 miles from us but inland. Our little house is almost a direct mile from Venice Inlet.

Suddenly our house buzzed with excitement. Dad brought tables from our personal storage area a half mile north of us. They constructed a double-height table. Mom put valuables on top including photo albums, a large assortment of records and CDs, a TV, old slides and several power cords. She packed a red suitcase.

On Saturday, Dad got up and said he was going to build a wall. Even though Uncle Nick had come to our house to help board it up, he also had to help Dad build his wall. It consisted of a frame of wood, plastic sheeting and sand bags he had filled the night before. Usually the town gives them out, but when Mom went to get them, the truck carrying sand had hit electrical wires, so the place was closed. She continued to pack large plastic bags and fill the car except for the very back of our van.

Saturday evening we promised everyone we would be on our way first thing Sunday morning. There was just enough room on the second table for me to enjoy dining at “Applebys Upstairs” prior to my date with Irma.

Early Sunday morning they herded us each to our own cat carrier and put us in the back of the van. Off we went. It rained pretty heavily on our way to Aunt L’s and Uncle N’s.

Upon our arrival, we were given Uncle N’s man cave consisting of a futon, a walk-in closet and a corridor style bathroom. There were chocolate candies on the pillows of the futon! There was a litter box especially for me because I am known to like to do my business on a plastic bag.

Mom and Dad opened our cages. None of us came out. What we soon found out was that the only door to outside was from our bathroom. Everything else was boarded up tight. Since L and N have two large brown dogs that went in and out on leashes, we hunkered down.

Katie, aka K.T., aka Kitten, shot into the closet behind the vacuum cleaner. Tabitha made a beeline for the three litter boxes in the bathroom. Of course Sheba, the hermit, stayed in her cage. I started to wander the room and found Mr. Chris hiding under the futon. Dusty just got up on the futon and rested. She left the chocolates for Mom and Dad. That is when I remembered that Dusty had lived outside with a wildlife specialist here in Florida the last time she got scared, so this was old news for her.

The only time there was any meowing or racket was when Athena, the brown Lab who had been born on July 4, hid under the desk in our room. The wind and rain had started in earnest, and we realized that Irma was making a visit.

Aunt L and Uncle N made spaghetti and meatballs on the grill outside in the back of the house under cover. The evening was filled with old stories since there was no TV, internet or phone. Uncle N had a generator that kept the refrigerator going.

During the night I heard one of us pitching some food up. Next morning Sheba was out of her cage, a serious achievement for her. The pitched food was in her cage.

By morning Irma had moved onto other areas of the state. I could smell Aunt L making bacon and sunny-side-up eggs on the grill. The weather was actually clear, but now we had to face the idea that our own home might be in disarray. We were very worried about large palm and pine trees falling over onto our roof. We were also worried about a 3-foot-high or better storm surge.

Again, Mom and Dad herded six cats into cages. Don’t forget we all had been rescued (feral) cats and kittens from outside in Harvey Cedars between the years of 2002 and 2013.

When we got home, there was almost no damage at all, a piece of screen here and there, a little water seeping around a window. Wow! Were we all lucky!

P.S. All of us – Dusty, Sheba, Tabitha, Mr. Chris, Katie and I – were all commended by the big people on our excellent behavior during Irma’s visit to the Sarasota area.

This is the story of Runtley, one of six former Harvey Cedars rescue cats, as told to “Mom” Sandi Appleby of Nokomis, Fla., and Harvey Cedars. The Applebys have been part-time and full-time residents of Harvey Cedars since 1955. For 28 of these years they owned Ship’s Wheel II in the borough. They have participated in the TNR (trap, neuter, release) program there for 15 years.

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