As the water levels rose, it did not seem likely that the trapped kitten would escape her fate inside the flooded drainpipe. However, one rescuer wasn’t going to give up without a fight. So she got down on her hands and knees before dragging herself into the filthy drain.
In August 2015 residents of a neighborhood in St. Albans, Virginia, heard strange noises coming from a drainpipe. As they listened, they realized they were in fact the cries of trapped animals. And because of heavy rain, it was unclear how they could get them out.
So a member of the public called 911. It seems that someone also contacted Dorella Tuckwiller, because she also arrived on the scene not long after. Tuckwiller is the founder of Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, an animal rescue organization that is based in the area. As a result, she is well used to rescuing animals in need.
A group of volunteers form the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee. And not only does the group rescue cats, but it also provides them with foster homes. Furthermore, it works hard to find the animals loving forever homes.
When Tuckwiller arrived on the scene with a small group of the Committee’s volunteers, they found three kittens struggling against the surge of water. And it soon became clear that it would be a race against the clock to rescue any of the cats.
After a while, the kittens’ mother managed to drag one of her young to safety. Sadly, however, another kitten drowned. This left just one tiny little baby in desperate need of help. So the rescue team got to work on retrieving the endangered cat.
First, one volunteer attempted to capture the cat with a fishing net. However, their efforts seemed to scare the kitten. As a result, it ended up moving to the furthest part of the drain, beneath a storm drain cover.
Just at that moment, a team from the West Side Volunteer Fire Department arrived. They were able to dam the flow of water and pump some of the liquid out of the drain. However, there was still no way of reaching the ailing kitten.
That’s when Tuckwiller leapt into action. As the rain poured, the dedicated animal rescuer decided there was only one thing to do. Consequently, with little regard for her own safety, Tuckwiller crawled head-first into the flooded drain pipe.
After a few tense moments, Tuckwiller shouted to the awaiting fire crew to pull her out. And, as she reemerged from the pipe, she handed them the exhausted, soaking wet kitten. The crowd of onlookers let out a cheer of joy.
Clearly relieved, Tuckwiller laid a tender kiss on the kitten’s tiny forehead. “My biggest fear was I was going to lose him,” she subsequently revealed to the Charleston Gazette-Mail in 2015. “If I had dropped him… that was my biggest fear… not being able to hold him above the water and dropping him.”
Following the rescue, volunteer firefighter Galeena Wileman rushed the little kitten to her truck. There, she administered oxygen through a tiny, specially-made resuscitation mask for animals. Once the little cat came round, rescuers took the kitten to the nearest veterinary clinic.
“She is being stabilized by the wonderful doctors and staff at Good Shepherd,” read a statement on the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee Facebook page in 2015. “Her temperature is coming up and we are hopeful she will make a full recovery! She is a very beautiful little girl who is estimated to be around five weeks old.”
“Although we are extremely thankful for the life we were able to save, we are heavy-hearted for the lives that were lost before we arrived. This is the part of rescue that is the toughest,” the post went on. “Thank you to all of the volunteers who came to our aid.”
Her rescuers decided to name the kitten Stormy. And as her recovery progressed, it wasn’t long before some were hailing Tuckwiller as a hero. However, it was an accolade she was quick to brush aside.
“There were many other heroes there that day,” she wrote on the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee Facebook page in 2015. “Every single person who showed up and did or tried to do something. They are the heroes who helped me realize that there are some good people in this world.”
A woman named Alysia Sigman was among the crowds that day. Sigman had been walking past the scene with her dog, Keno, when she decided to stop and help. However, since then, she had been unable to get little Stormy out of her mind.
So when Stormy was well enough, Sigman made contact with the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee. Then she kindly offered to provide the kitten with her forever family. So, just weeks after her ordeal, the cat found herself in a safe, warm home.
“Keno and I are very excited to welcome the newest member of our family, Stormy ‘Supa-Fly’ Sigman,” Sigman wrote on Facebook at the time. “The first time I met her she was hanging on the inside of a storm drain, cold, tired, soaking wet and scared. All things she will never be again!”
And a year down the line Stormy had settled into her new home perfectly. Not only had she gained a new mom, but she also found a brother in Keno the dog. After such a traumatic experience, this lucky little kitten was finally home and dry.