Res­cued man brings kit­ten along for ride

The Palm Beach Post - - AFTERMATH OF FLORENCE -

From his seat on the back of a small jon boat, Robert Sim­mons Jr. sur­veyed the flood­wa­ter in his neigh­bor­hood in north­west New Bern. The wa­ter, which spilled over from the Neuse River dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Florence, turned streets into canals, divided by rooftops. It was waist-deep on some of those streets, and deeper still on oth­ers. All around, street signs and trees poked through the wa­ter, of­fer­ing land­marks to a ter­rain that even long­time res­i­dents found un­rec­og­niz­able. Sim­mons has lived here his en­tire life — 40 years — he said, and now he didn’t rec­og­nize any­thing.

Sim­mons told the story while a kit­ten peered through the top of his rain jacket. Sim­mons had taken the an­i­mal with him on the boat. The kit­ten clung to Sim­mons, as if a new­born cling­ing to his mother, and while Sim­mons spoke, the kit­ten mewed. Both were wet. Both wore tired ex­pres­sions.

Mid­way through his boat ride, his kit­ten climbed out of his jacket. He climbed on Sim­mons’ back, and then perched on his shoul­der. For a mo­ment it looked like they took in the scene around them to­gether. It looked like they were close, the man and his young cat, and Sim­mons smiled at the thought.

“I feed him,” he said. “I’m an an­i­mal lover.”

ANDREW CARTER / THE NEWS & OB­SERVER VIA AP

Robert Sim­mons Jr. and his kit­ten “Sur­vivor” are res­cued Fri­day from flood­wa­ters in New Bern, N.C.

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