Rescued man brings kitten along for ride
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.”
Robert Simmons Jr. and his kitten “Survivor” are rescued Friday from floodwaters in New Bern, N.C.