HURRICANE HARVEY: After rescue, woman realizes she left her cat behind


Janice Forse awoke in Beaumont to water in her house.

When the firefighters came, she brought her two dogs and kittens with her. But she forgot their mother.

Janice Forse fell asleep late Tuesday night next to her two dogs on a couch at her North Beaumont home. It was raining as she closed her eyes.

When she woke up Wednesday and slid her feet onto the ground, a sting of frigid water rushed up her ankles.

Tropical Storm Harvey had dropped a state record 26 inches of rain over 24 hours in Beaumont, a city of roughly 118,000 people about 70 miles east of Houston.

“Things were floating around me,” said Forse, 62. “I never thought it would get that bad.”

Later that morning, firefighters from Beaumont banged on her door.

They told her she needed to leave. Water was now waist deep.

HURRICANE HARVEY EVACUEE: ‘We are blessed in spite of this’

Forse had been fostering a group of kittens and their mother at her home. She put the kittens in a plastic bucket, grabbed her purse and her dogs.

The firefighters pulled her into a boat. She looked back at her home. She had just moved into it last year.

The boat was leaving when she heard moans from inside. The kittens’ mother was still there. She’d forgotten about her.

She felt the firefighters rushing her. It was too late to go back.

She sobbed as the boat sped off.

Hours later, Forse’s tears continued, trickling down her face toward her cot at the Beaumont Civic Center. It had been turned into a shelter days earlier.

Forse curled into a ball.

More than 900 other displaced people surrounded her. But she felt so alone. Nobody was with her. That home was all she had.

“I just keep thinking about that momma cat,” she said. Her hands cupped her face. “I can’t believe it.”

Update: On Saturday, Sept. 2, rescue workers found the momma cat, named Camo, deceased at Janice Forse’s home, according to Phillis Forse, Janice Forse’s sister, and Angela Priddy, who had helped lead efforts to rescue Camo. Phillis Forse and Priddy said a video on Facebook that has circulated showing Janice Forse greeting a cat shows a cat that is not Camo. Janice Forse could not be reached for comment on this update.

HOW TO HELP: Volunteers, donations needed for Harvey relief

Janice Forse cries at the emergency shelter at the Beaumont Civic Center in Beaumont after Hurricane Harvey on Wednesday August 30, 2017. Her home was flooded Wednesday morning. "€œEven Katrina wasn'€™t this bad,"€ she said.

Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Sheriff: Williamson Co. apartment stay indoors, “situation developing”
Sheriff: Williamson Co. apartment stay indoors, “situation developing”

The Williamson County sheriff’s office is asking residents at the Preserve at Rolling Hills Apartments south of Round Rock to shelter in place Sunday night due to a “situation developing.” Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody tweeted shortly before 6 p.m. about a possible incident at the complex, which is located in the 15000 block...
Border Patrol agent dies, partner seriously injured in Big Bend area

The FBI has taken charge of an investigation into the death of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent and the serious injury of another Sunday in the Big Bend area of Texas. Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez and his partner were taken to a hospital after sustaining injuries while on duty around Big Bend. Martinez died and his partner, whose...
Man accused of baseball bat attacks in North Austin, police say

NORTH AUSTIN Man accused of baseball bat attacks A 26-year-old man was charged with five counts of aggravated assault after police said he struck five people with his hands and an aluminum baseball bat in North Austin. Kenney Irons was booked into the Travis County Jail in lieu of bail set at $100,000 following the incident at Zoe’s Helping Hand...
JUST IN: Man injured in rollover crash in northeast Austin Sunday
JUST IN: Man injured in rollover crash in northeast Austin Sunday

One man was injured in a rollover crash in northeast Austin on Sunday, Austin-Travis County EMS said. The wreck occurred on the southbound service road of Texas 130 near East Pflugerville Parkway shortly before 3 p.m., EMS said. A man in his 30s was pulled from his vehicle and taken to Seton Medical Center Williamson with potentially serious injuries...
Police: Florida woman kills husband, hides his duct taped body in closet
Police: Florida woman kills husband, hides his duct taped body in closet

A 65-year-old Florida woman was arrested and accused of murdering her husband and then hiding his duct-taped body behind a brick wall she built inside a closet.  Barbara Wozniak, of Shalimar, was charged with second-degree murder Friday night while she was already in the Okaloosa County jail on another charge of tampering with evidence...
More Stories