Four weeks after evacuation, Roxanne Draudson had no idea what she was going to find when she returned home to Fort McMurray.
She had been working in Conklin when the evacuation order came in on May 3, and was unable to get home to retrieve her four cats and two dogs. Draudson, who moved to the city in February, asked a co-worker to go and get her furry friends.
“About 15 minutes later I get a text saying, ‘okay we have two dogs and two cats,'” she said.
Her two other cats, Oliver and Spike, were nowhere to be found. Draudson spent the next several weeks trying every avenue she could think of to see if anyone else had found them. She was posting on Facebook pet boards every day, and she even asked some police officers to do a check.
The RMWB said last week that 1,266 requests for animal checks were submitted during the evacuation. Through that program 1,177 animals were recovered and 1,078 reunited with their owners.
Oliver and Spike were two of the eight-nine that weren’t found.
“You’re just left to wonder,” Draudson said. “Are they okay? Did they starve to death? Or are they outside hunting mice in their glory?”
She added that her work had her coming close to the city several times, but each time she wasn’t allowed to go home. The intense smoke and poor air quality had her worried that Oliver and Spike were having trouble breathing.
Finally, after 28 days, Draudson was able to return on May 31. She called out repeatedly, and nothing. But she didn’t give up, and eventually she heard a faint “meow.” Eventually, both cats came slinking up from the basement, appearing no worse for wear.
Amazingly the cats hadn’t ventured outside despite an open window, and Draudson’s co-worker had the idea to open up their food and leave the toilet seat up to keep them fed and watered.
“If anything they look healthier,” Draudson said.
She says the cats are a little friendlier than before the evacuation, after four weeks of isolation. That’s good, because she’s counting their blessings.
“I’ve been granted way more miracles than some people,” she said.