NATIONAL NEWS

Alaska couple reunited with cat 26 days after home collapsed into river swollen by glacial outburst

Sep 5, 2023, 2:13 PM | Updated: 2:58 pm

ANCHORAGE, ALaska (AP) — A pair of Alaska teachers needed good news after they lost nearly all their possessions when their house collapsed into a river swollen by a glacial-outburst flood and their cat went missing.

Elizabeth Wilkins was holding onto hope that if any animal would survive the house falling into the Mendenhall River on Aug. 5, it would be Leo, the couple’s resilient big-eyed, black-and-white cat who shows no fear of bears.

“I knew that he’s pretty smart, and so I felt pretty confident that he would escape and be OK somewhere,” she said.

That faith paid off 26 days after the flood when Tonya Mead posted a posted of Leo to the Juneau Community Collective Facebook page. Wilkins immediately knew it was Leo, the “COVID kitten” they rescued in 2020. She rushed to meet Mead.

“I just started walking down the street calling for him, and he just ran out and was like, ‘Oh hey, here I am, you know, like, where have you been?’ ” she said.

The river flooding was caused by a major release of water from Suicide Basin, a Mendenhall Glacier -dammed lake in Juneau, that eroded the river bank.

Wilkens and her partner, Tom Schwartz, moved into the home shortly before the flood hit, but they were away on a mountain biking trip to Bend, Oregon.

Friends called and sent videos, warning their house was in danger of being washed away.

Ultimately, several homes were destroyed or partially destroyed, with others condemned or flooded. None of the destruction was as famous as the house being rented by Wilkins and Schwartz, with video of it collapsing into the river going viral.

The couple returned to Juneau three days later to sort out new living arrangements and to look for Leo.

They returned to the site of the house, calling out Leo’s name and leaving food for him in the chicken coop.

By then, it seemed like everyone in Juneau was looking for him. There were plenty of sightings of Leo, but Wilkins said it appears that there are just many black-and-white unhoused cats in Juneau.

When he did turn up, he appeared to be in good health.

“Leo was a little thinner, but otherwise totally fine,” Wilkins said. “He ate four cans of tuna and went outside to kill a mouse. I imagine that is how he survived.”

She said it is amazing to have Leo back, though he currently is staying with a friend while they look for another place to live.

“It’s super joyful because everyone in their community was looking for him, and it’s nice to have some good news,” she said.

And just like Leo, some of their other possessions are finding their way back to them, but not in as good of condition as the cat.

“People have been finding some things, like some of our clothes and pictures were in 4 feet (1.22 meter) of silt in someone’s yard down the Mendenhall River,” Wilkins said.

National News

Michael Boris, with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), shows off thousands of Oyste...

Associated Press

AmeriCorps CEO gets a look at a volunteer-heavy project to rebuild Louisiana’s vulnerable coast.

VIOLET, La. (AP) — A volunteer-heavy effort to restore some of Louisiana’s eroding coast with recycled oyster shells was part of the scenic backdrop Wednesday for a visit from the head of AmeriCorps, the federal agency that deploys volunteers to serve communities around the nation. Michael Smith, the CEO of AmeriCorps, visited a storage area […]

33 minutes ago

Associated Press

FBI searches home of former aide to New York Gov Kathy Hochul

MANHASSET, N.Y. (AP) — The FBI searched the Long Island home of a former aide to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday. The former staffer, Linda Sun, has not been accused of wrongdoing, and an FBI spokesman declined to release details beyond confirming that agents “conducted court-authorized law enforcement activity in Manhasset.” Sun and […]

49 minutes ago

Associated Press

Los Angeles Zoo sets record with 17 California condor chicks hatched in 2024

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A record 17 California condor chicks hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo during this year’s breeding season for the endangered birds, officials announced Wednesday. All the chicks will be candidates for release into the wild as part of the California Condor Recovery Program, the LA Zoo said in a statement. The […]

56 minutes ago

FILE - A Boeing 737 Max jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson, ...

Associated Press

Prosecutors file Boeing’s plea deal to resolve felony fraud charge tied to 737 Max crashes

The Justice Department has filed an agreement in which Boeing will plead guilty to a fraud charge for misleading regulators who approved the 737 Max jetliner before two of the planes crashed, killing 346 people. The detailed plea agreement was filed Wednesday in federal district court in Texas. The American aerospace company and the Justice […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Biotech company’s CEO pleads guilty in Mississippi welfare fraud case

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The chief executive officer of a biotech company with ties to the largest public corruption case in Mississippi history pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of wire fraud for improperly using welfare funds intended to develop a concussion drug. Jacob VanLandingham entered the plea at a hearing in Jackson before U.S. […]

1 hour ago

President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One as he arrives Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Ju...

Associated Press

Biden to use Oval Office address to explain his decision to quit 2024 race, begin to shape legacy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Insisting that “the defense of democracy is more important than any title,” President Joe Biden on Wednesday will explain in an Oval Office address his decision to drop his bid for reelection and to throw his support behind Vice President Kamala Harris. The address will offer the public their first chance to […]

1 hour ago

Alaska couple reunited with cat 26 days after home collapsed into river swollen by glacial outburst