March 17, 1996 in Nation/World

Strangers Sneak Cat From Evacuated Town

Associated Press

Susan Weiss sat in a church and wept with worry: Her cat, Kynda, was home alone after the derailment of propane tankers forced an evacuation of Weiss’ community.

On the 12th day of the evacuation Friday, Weiss shed tears of joy. She and Kynda were reunited, thanks to strangers who sneaked past safety lines and risked arrest to reach Weiss’ home.

“I don’t know who did it. I don’t know first names or anything. It was like a cloak-and-dagger operation. But I got her with me,” Weiss said in a telephone interview from the motel where she is staying.

Kynda was “very, very thirsty” but otherwise OK, Weiss said.

The National Guard continued draining the derailed tank cars through the weekend in hopes of allowing the 1,700 inhabitants of the central Wisconsin community of Weyauwega to return home.

The return will be allowed only after heating contractors, public utility representatives and other inspectors determine buildings are safe, Lt. Gary Thompson said.

Wisconsin Central Ltd. railroad hired specialists from Texas to begin draining the tankers a week ago.

Two days earlier, on March 8, the National Guard let 132 people don helmets and flak jackets and enter the town in tanklike personnel carriers to rescue pets.

Weiss was told her home was too near the wreckage to be included in the rescue. The news devastated Weiss, who is disabled. The 10-yearold cat is her sole companion.

Wednesday night, Weiss’ 52nd birthday, she got a call. She was told if she wanted Kynda rescued, she was to meet a guy with a ski cap at a designated place. She said she made the rendezvous and handed the keys to her home to strangers.

“Four hours later, they came back with my cat. What can I say?” Weiss said.

“It is totally bizarre, I know. … I felt like I was on ‘Mission Impossible.’ To come up with my precious cat, it was like ‘Wow, I don’t believe it.”’

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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