Samson’s Tornado Rescue Story

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Samson, in a fuzzy photo. Most of his family’s photos were lost in the Oklahoma tornadoes of 1999.


Samson became trapped in the wreckage of his home following the terrible F5 tornado that devastated the Oklahoma City/ Del City area in 1999. Though everyone said there was no way he could have lived through the terrible force that hit his home, near Tinker AFB, his hearing impaired petmom heard his meows and didn’t give up her search for Samson until he was found, trapped in his usual hiding place in the home.  As stories of lost, found and reunited pets from last week’s tornado that brought destruction to Moore, OK come to light, Ms. N. Parks is reminded of her experience with Samson and wants to tell people not to give up on their pets when disaster strikes, no matter how bad things look.


Guest post by N. Parks

My house was destroyed by the F5 May 3rd 1999 tornado that hit the Oklahoma City, OK area. Looking through all the rubble left behind, I thought there was no way my senior Siamese cat of almost 15 years, could’ve survived it. All of his hiding places were crushed and just covered by debris. Everyone had pretty much given up that we would ever find him.

We were at the end of our third day, recovering what we could of pictures, keepsakes, etc when I thought I heard “meow.” I tried to get my family members to help me look for him, but none of them could hear him. They thought I was just hearing things, because I have a severe hearing impairment and I was “hoping” to find him. Because the neighborhoods were closed down in the evening by national guard, I had to leave. Of course, I tried to get them to help me or let me stay.

The next day, my family was back to going through things and I heard a “meow” again. I started trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. Again, no one else heard him. I was frantically running all over the place trying to figure out where he could be, then I remembered… He always hid behind the couch and even though the couch was covered by the brick wall of the back half of the house, I thought maybe somehow he found a hole.

I ran up and down the street looking for anyone that had a flashlight. I laid down and tried to dig out debris from under the frame of the house and I pointed the flashlight in every hole. All of a  sudden, I saw two red eyes looking at me and heard a huge “meow.”

I started screaming, “I found him, I found him.” I immediately started trying to get all the bricks and debris off the frame of the house. It was amazing, neighbors stopped what they were doing and came running to help me. They all teamed up and helped get everything off the frame. They lifted the frame while I tried to move the couch away from the wall.

Somehow, my cat had gotten pinned against the frame and the couch in a hole less than a foot high and half a foot wide. He was covered in insulation, could barely open his eyes, and was severely dehydrated but he was alive. My vet’s office had been destroyed by the tornado so I rushed him to Petsmart, where they cared for him immediately.

I will never forget that day. With my hearing impairment, there should’ve been no way that I could’ve heard him, but I listened with my heart. I just wanted to pass this on to people who think they may have lost their pets… Don’t give up, stop and listen…. Because you never know. If I would’ve given up, I might not have ever found him until it was too late. They gave us deadlines on when we had to get our stuff before they were going to send bulldozers in; I’m just glad I had the instinct to listen and keep looking.

Please don’t give up. Animals have amazing strength. When someone tells you there’s no way anyone or anything could’ve survived an F5 tornado or other disaster, keep your faith. It is possible.

Ed. note:  Given Samson’s age, we asked Ms. Parks how he fared after his rescue from the rubble. Unfortunately, he was never the same after the experience and he only lived another five months. At least he did not perish trapped and alone, and he had several more months with the woman who loved him.

Samson passed away in October 1999. After the tornado, he had a really tough time. He had been found with insulation in his eyes, nose and mouth, and he had to have very soft foods afterward since his mouth and throat were really raw from the insulation. He was disoriented after the tornado and really never returned to his normal self. He had been a very calm cat but in the end, he was very skittish. He had a lot of joint pain afterwards and would go days without eating.

Finally, in October, he was having such a hard time walking, eating, etc, we had to let him go. Before the tornado, he had been such an energetic cat, always playing and loved to snuggle. Afterwards, he didn’t really want to be around his family. He was always hiding.

Animal Planet, I believe, came out to interview me when I found him. The video showed exactly how I found him and where he was. It was just an amazing thing that I found him. I remember looking at his bed in the kitchen and being told that there was no way he survived. After several days of thinking I was hearing his ‘meow’ I was just so happy to have validation that he was alive and that I wasn’t hearing things. He was my buddy. I’ve never owned another cat since.

Since this occurred, I have had cochlear implants and can hear tremendously better. Back in 1999, I had such horrible hearing, there’s no way I should’ve heard him. Had I had my cochlears, I may have heard him sooner. Maybe not… Maybe it was just my heart telling me not to give up on him. I’m glad I didn’t.

By telling my story, I want to give people hope and faith that animals can survive these storms, and to tell them listen to their hearts. Check the shelters and online, it is possible your pet survived and someone has found them. In the tornado zone in Oklahoma today there are a lot of pets waiting on their families to find them.



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