JOPLIN, Mo. —
Terrla Cruse on Tuesday was talking with her sister, Suzi Hoskins, on the rubble pile that remained of her former house at 2417 S. Joplin Ave.
Cruse and her husband, J.E. Cruse, lived there with their daughters, 4-year-old Isabella and 2-month-old Lauren, and cat, 13-year-old Lavern, before the May 22 tornado struck.
As Cruse talked with her sister, they heard meowing. She and her husband had been back to look for Lavern several times, but had no luck finding her and had come to accept that the feline probably had perished.
Cruse said she and her sister dug through the rubble, led by the meowing. She said she continued to think that it probably was the neighbor’s cat and not Lavern. The meowing stopped for a bit, then resumed.
After awhile, Lavern’s head emerged, then they removed more debris to free her completely.
After 16 days buried in the rubble, Lavern was dehydrated and lost weight. Cruse took her to the veterinarian, but the family pet is expected to make a full recovery.
“I didn’t think it was going to be her,” Cruse said. “It was just total shock and happiness.”