Ross, who lives in Bonita Springs in southwest Florida, had evacuated to his parents nearby for shelter from the storm. His house was “10 feet under water” and his parents have a “fortress” built to withstand hurricanes, he said.
As he looked outside, he was stunned to see a cat sitting there all alone. He couldn’t imagine leaving him to fend for himself.
“The storm surge was a bit rushed at that time,” Ross recalled, adding that the incident happened Wednesday afternoon around 2 p.m., shortly before the category hurricane hit. 4 makes landfall in southwest Florida with winds of 15o mph.
Having lived in the area all his life, he knows hurricanes well, but said this one was “absolutely terrible”.
The cat, Ross said, looked “terrified.”
Knee-high in floodwater, Ross trudged towards the cat, pushing against the mighty current. Once he got close enough, he picked up the abandoned animal and held it tightly to his chest as he pulled it to safety.
Power outages top 1 million as Category 4 storm heads inland
Ross’ mother, Marybeth Ross, captured the rescue on camera. In the background of the video, she is heard saying, “Look at Michael saving the kitty. Awww.”
Ross’ girlfriend shared the clip on Twitter, and the internet quickly took notice. The video has been viewed over 1.1 million times and the breathless comments poured in.
“I Scream My Eyes Out” another wrote.
“I’m sorry, Megan, but he’s everyone’s boyfriend now,” someone tweeted.
People also shared similar cat rescue stories: “Hurricane cats are an old Florida tradition. We picked up ours a few years ago during Irma. I can’t imagine this house without the tripod,” one person commentedsharing a photo of a cat.
While most people praised Ross’ rescue effort (the most common comment is: “Marry him.”), others expressed concern for the many animals that might not come out alive from the storm.
“This cat was saved, but I can’t think of how many more won’t.” one person tweeted. “It breaks my heart.”
Ross, who works as a consultant at a software company, said he shared the same fear. Still, he’s relieved that at least one stranded pet is now safe and sound.
The cat is currently hiding with Ross and his family, and the plan is to keep him if they can’t find his owners.
In the meantime, her new furry friend has a roof over her head and a loving home.
More importantly, the cat “looks healthy,” Ross said.
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