In July 2013, in the town of Lac-Megantic Canada, an unattended 74-car freight train carrying crude oil ran away and derailed, resulting in the fire and explosion of multiple tank cards. Forty-two people were killed and five more were missing and presumed dead. More than 30 buildings in the town’s center, roughly half of the downtown area, were destroyed. A hundred and fifteen businesses were destroyed, displaced, or rendered inaccessible.
The municipal water supply for Lac-Megantic was shut down because of a leak inside the blast zone, requiring trucks carrying drinking water to be utilized during clean-up efforts. Residents were evacuated from their homes and many businesses had to operate from temporary locations outside the downtown area.
It was the fourth deadliest rail accident in Canadian history. The tragedy crippled the town and brought its residents to their knees.
Amidst the chaos and devastation, no one heard the soft cries of a cat left helpless and alone. No one was there to tend to its needs as it sat trapped and alone inside one of the abandoned homes.
On September 22, an incredibe 79 days after the disaster struck, the poor feline was finally found. A worker named Mario spotted the male tabby cat’s silhouette in the window of the house. He called Francoise Belle-Isle, of the local animal refuge, who helped lure the cat out of the house with a cage trap.
Francoise herself is a heroine. She worked 14-hour days following the derailment helping displaced families with pets and those looking for their missing pets. So, she was thrilled to be able to add this poor cat to her list of survivors.
The cat had been holed up without food, water or companionship for more than seven weeks. No one has determined how he managed to survive for so long on his own. He was suffering from such extreme dehydration when he was brought in to the veterinarian that there was some discussion about putting him down.
But Francoise would have none of that. This cat was a survivor!
She gave the cat a new name (Mario) and, in the days after his rescue, she was by his side as he showed remarkable improvement thanks to a protein-rich diet supplemented with iron-enhanced baby cereal. The vet expressed surprise at the remarkable results, considering his long time spent in seclusion.
Mario proved he had a fighting spirit when his energy continued to increase. Day by day his health improved until, finally, he was acting like a normal happy cat.
Today, no one would recognize the scrawny sad cat that was found in that abandoned home. His body and spirit have made a full recovery thanks to the help of a true angel. Francoise still keeps in touch with the hearty tabby. He has a new home now and enjoys sunning himself in the patch of sunlight that streams through his favorite window.
Just as the town of Lac-Megantic stayed strong to re-build itself from such a tragedy, so has Mario, the “Miracle” cat.