On Saturday (or Caturday), a group of SARA volunteers with power troubles that barred our normal adoption afternoons went down to Union Beach, NJ to help St. Francis Feline Fellowship.
Union Beach, N.J. on Raritan Bay is a community hard-hit by Superstorm Sandy. Even two weeks later, not all traffic lights are operational on Route 36. One of the banks has a truck set up in their parking lot as a mobile banking center. There were signs flashing alongside the road with info on where to get food, water, and ice.
The night of the storm the wind-driven tidal surge swept into homes with violent force, crashing through locked doors and carefully sealed windows and tearing through living rooms, hallways, bedrooms and kitchens.
Walls ripped from foundations and two-story houses sheared in half. Brook Avenue and Front Street became roads of ruin, with homes like Stenquist’s reduced to concrete and wooden rubble.
Between 200-300 were knocked off their foundations or rendered uninhabitable, authorities say. More than 100 houses are simply missing from the tightly knit community of 6,200 that lives in the tiny town of one square mile.
Houses that weren’t obliterated were flooded, the water cresting at eight feet, then draining away, taking with it anything that floated.
St. Francis Feline Fellowship is located at a residence that still exists. Repairs are needed to the residence, and while I was out there Saturday, FEMA came by twice to take pictures and notes. Even though that'll help later, the primary home insurance adjustor has not visited. The second step is the flood insurance, then FEMA's assistance will be last. In addition to the house, Sue's car was floated onto the front porch and considered totalled.
In addition to the personal loss, Sue realized that the storm surge was higher than it had ever been in Union Beach. She stated her house never had this kind of flooding.
There is a cat sanctuary on the property. It was recently built, and has an interior section with heat and air conditioning. Feral cats were being sheltered in it, including a cat that was at my house for two years waiting for a sanctuary spot to open up.
Sue evacuated as many cats as she could from the sanctuary that night, in the dark and in chest-deep water. They were crowded together on a high shelf, needing her help to reach somewhere safer. Grabbing feral, scared cats is not easy, and even though Sue has practice handling difficult cats, the only thing that mattered was getting the cats out of this shelter. Not a single cat was injured or lost.
What I worked on Saturday was getting the sanctuary shelter cleared out, cleaning it, and getting it ready for the cats to return to their normal home.
Out of the cat supplies, a great deal was lost. Any soft furniture was waterlogged, cat trees with particle board bases was considered totaled, even if it did not come apart because of possibiilty of mold or mildew, blankets and towels were saturated with mud, and full bags of dry cat food had become wet.
There was a second small building that was used for recovery for any ill cats or those needing surgery, including spay/neuters. There were more materials lost from that building as well.
St. Francis Feline Fellowship needs donations - there is a donation button on the web site. It's also 501(c)3, like Summit Animal Rescue. It might seem odd one rescue group pointing at another, but St. Francis is similar to SARA, but also different. Sue does more TNR, socializing cats that may seem unadoptable, and will sanctuary a limited number of ferals that have nowhere to go.
I have no hands-on experience with TNR work, and I've only socialized a few somewhat feral kittens. However, I can share Morticia's story, and she is currently a resident in Sue's sanctuary.
Back in August 2008, a member of our group called my daughter's cell phone (I hardly ever hear mine), and said there was a cat left in a carrier at the Petco on Route 9 in Old Bridge, where SARA South holds their adoption Saturdays. A black female cat was giving birth to kittens in the carrier in the store.
I got her to my house, isolated her in a bathroom with the kittens, and eventually tried to get them out of the carrier. She didn't like that, so I ended up taking the carrier apart to remove the top. It turned out she was more than overprotective - she was a feral cat. Very beautiful though, with long, black hair and big, green eyes. As long as I didn't try to touch her though, she was content to hang out in the bathroom, taking care of her four kittens (Lizzie, Countess, Pugsley and Wednesday Addams).
After the kittens were a couple weeks old, there were two kittens found up at a scrap metal yard in Newark, who had just been born. One of them still had the placenta attached. They suspected the start of their work day scared the mother away, so they needed either to bottle feed these little guys, or find a nursing mama that would take care of them. Within a few hours, they were at my house, and my mama cat pushed her own babies out of the way to make room for these guys (Ichabod and Igor).
Mama Morticia weaned all the kittens and SARA had her spayed. However, since she was feral, we couldn't offer her for adoption, and since we didn't know where she came from, we had no place to return her to. Sanctuary spaces are hard to come by, but after a wait of close to two years, Morticia was accepted at St. Francis Feline Fellowship.
Still with SARA, Wednesday Addams is still available for adoption. Everyone else was adopted, but I think they were overlooking a real gem of a cat. Wednesday is a terrific cat for a household seeking a spectator or laid-back companion, rather than a diva or a cat that wants babying.
She listens for the alarm clock to start her day with me every morning, she’s my best girlfriend and comes with me to the ladies’ room, and she likes spending her evening watching whatever I’m doing. Wednesday seems to enjoy schedules and routines.
Miss Addams may not be a lap cat, but she wants to be around, and watching the people in her life. When she does join someone for a cuddle, Wednesday prefers to be the one in charge. She gives a fast, firm massage with her kneading paws, and then she’s back to watching.
She is spayed, up to date on vaccinations, negative FIV/FELV. Her foster home has dogs and a teenager (her favorite show).
Her Petfinder entry: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/22013099