In June, South Texas was hit with heavy rain, causing widespread flooding throughout the region. Property was destroyed, families were separated, and, were it not for a daring rescue, Vannah Vercetti feared she would lose her beloved Blanca forever.
Vercetti lives in a mobile home in Weslaco alongside her husband, Leon, his dog, and their 11 cats: Blanca, Judy, Jade, Yo-Landi, Fiona, Frida, Rocket, Daisy, Lulu, Nanook, and Ducky.
Around 6:30 a.m. on June 20, the floods hit their home. Vercetti wasn’t just worried about her own wellbeing but her cats’ as well.
“They were all so scared when the rain came in,” Vercetti told Humanity. “They all hid in different places around my home.”
It was still dark when the flood rolled in, so Vercetti had to wait a few hours for the sun to rise before going out looking for her cats. All of them were found eventually, and most of them were safe. One, however, was not.
According to The Dodo, Blanca thought that the safest spot to stay out of the rain was directly under her house. She would soon find out that she was very, very wrong.
As the floodwaters continued to rise, Blanca got trapped below. Her frightened meows below the bedroom floor alerted her owners to her presence.
Vercetti had tried drawing the cat’s attention from outside the house but Leon’s plan was more direct, using tools to break his way through to her from within.
“A few moments later Vannah had entered the room and realized what I was about to do. She hit record on her phone and I took over,” Leon told Humanity.
At first he tried using an electric saw to cut through the floor but soon realized that it wouldn’t be safe for the cat. So he grabbed a hammer instead and started pounding away at the floor.
“[I] targeted an area I thought was safest for her. I had to hit with enough conscious intensity to break through the floorboard while also not injuring our cat,” Leon said. “My goal was to break through and use a wrench and my hands to break apart an opening big enough for her to squeeze through.”
“I take them in, and either I find them homes or I keep them,” she told Humanity. “The ones I keep I end up fixing them.”
Blanca was found alone outside of a Dollar General one night in April 2017 and brought to meet Vercetti almost immediately after. She and her husband fell in love with the cat instantly and decided to keep her as their own.
For over a year, Blanca continued to keep her distance from her owners. Yet, after the rescue, that all changed.
“After her near-death incident, she began following us around, meowing at us even after she’s been fed and even rubbing herself on our ankles when we go outside,” Vercetti said. “She follows my husband more than anyone else. It’s like she knows he saved her.”
“It’s been a little over a month and Blanca is doing great,” Leon said. “She’s healthy and more loving towards me.”
Leon noted that, while he and his wife are glad that Blanca are closer to them, not every member of the family is quite as excited.
“My dog, on the other hand, isn’t too happy when she tags along for his afternoon walks,” he said.
Cat Shelter Dreams
The flooding back in June was serious. When 5 foot 1 inch tall Vercetti stepped outside, the water reached up to her waist.
Though the home was raised 3 feet off the ground, it still suffered a lot of damage, even more so after the dramatic cat rescue. But, as Vercetti writes in the caption to her video: “A hole in the floor beats a hole in my heart.”
Shortly after the flood, Vercetti launched a GoFundMe page to cover the cost of repairing her home and taking Blanca to the vet. She set the initial goal of raising $1,000, which was met within just five days.
After that, Vercetti set her goals even higher, hoping to raise $10,000 in order to transform her second home into a cat shelter.
“I’ve always wanted to care for cats. So when our video went viral, we decided to use the exposure to raise funds so that I can care for more cats that need it,” Vercetti told Humanity.
“It would be a dream come true if we’re able to raise the funds to build our very own cat shelter,” Vercetti wrote on her GoFundMe page.
If you would like to help Vercetti reach her goal, consider donating to her GoFundMe.