New beginnings for little miracles: the littlest tornado survivors acclimate to new surroundings

After tornadoes tore through parts of the South on April 27, people all over the world tuned in to the story of the Weavers, a family of people and pets who found themselves in the middle of one of the most devastated neighborhoods in Alabama.

As mentioned in the first post about the Weavers, Marsha Weaver is a woman with many real and virtual friends and admirers. She and her husband and children opened their home to many pets from animal shelters and rescues, and fostered other critters until forever homes could be found for them. A gifted seamstress, she ran The Cozy Cavy, which sold handcrafted beds and hidy places for the littlest furry pets.

On April 27, the Weavers lost almost everything: their home, their cars, their sense of safety. But worst of all, they lost many of their pets. As word spread on facebook and through online pet communities like GuineaLynx, people who had never met or even heard of the Weavers worried about them and the well-being of the littlest family members still unaccounted for: ten guinea pigs, ten rats, and several foster rats awaiting permanent homes. Desperately wanting to help, other rat and guinea pig pet owners began to raise monetary support through web sites like Sponsor a Guinea Pig. Plans were made for accumulating people and pet supplies when the Weavers were ready to receive them.

If only some of the Weaver Pigs and Rats could be found alive.

Then a miracle occurred.

Doug Weaver found Emma the guinea pig hiding under a piece of fleece shortly after the storm. Guinea pigs Jasmine, Holly, and Allie-Belle were found the next day. Rats Wesley, Samantha, Lulu, and Makayla were discovered, too. More than 48 hours after the storm, Olivia, sporting a small injury near her right eye, was also found.

As the family recovered from their injuries and sought a new home, the Weavers’ amazing veterinarian housed their pets, along with many other animals injured or displaced by the storm.

Olivia the rat shows off the injury above her right eye while hanging out with her friends at the vet's office. Photo by Marsha Weaver.

Members of GuineaLynx and other friends of the  Weavers in the area began to collect basic pet supplies for the veterinary office.  Shelby, the Weaver’s dog, was recovering from injuries sustained to her face and foot during the tornado and had several follow-up visits to the vet.

At last, the Weavers found an apartment that could accommodate four humans, a dog, four guinea pigs and five rats. The Weavers’ online friends, as well as Marsha’s sister, Marie Forgie, had coordinated the gathering of cage building materials, hay, pellets, and a special dog bed for Shelby. Becky Hines, a gifted seamstress who runs Sewing 4 A Cause, donated several handcrafted beds and tunnels. Gorgeous Guineas donated a gift basket of grooming products. And Lisa Sharp, a GuineaLynx community member, piled the donated supplies into her car and road-tripped to the Weaver apartment to help the Weavers build a proper cage for the little critters.

As the guinea pigs waited in their temporary digs–a cardboard box made as cozy as possible–Lisa and the Weavers got to work.

The Weaver Pigs wait in their cardboard box while their new cage is under construction. Jasmine (black guinea pig) rests in the pink cuddle cup; Allie-Belle hides in the elephant-print tunnel; and Holly paces along the wall. Not visible: Emma. Photo by Lisa Sharp.

The Weaver pets are used to living well, and they were going to have a nice place when Lisa and the Weavers were finished. After a few hours of elbow grease, the Weaver Pigs finally got to explore their new digs.

The Weaver pigs explore their new cage, while Shelby checks out her new mat. Note the scar under Shelby's eye, from an injury incurred during the April 27 tornado. Photo by Lisa Sharp.

Emma heads for the new "kitchen area" as the guinea pigs explore their new surroundings. Photo by Lisa Sharp.

It's not quite the same, but it's better than the cardboard box! Clockwise, from bottom left: Holly, Jasmine (under the canopy), Allie-Belle, and Emma. Photo by Lisa Sharp.

We can’t change the fact that a tornado reduced a huge swatch of Alabama to rubble. We can’t make up for the losses and the tragedies. But we can help the survivors survive. Seventeen days after the storm, the remaining members of the Weaver family are safe and together under one roof.

Many other tornado victims –humans and pets–are still in need of assistance. If you have not done so, consider giving to a reputable charity. Animal shelters and veterinary offices – many of which gave free emergency treatment to animals injured during the April 27 tornado, can also use your support. If you are in the area, consider fostering a displaced pet. More opportunities to help others in need will likely arise as the flooding Mississippi River displaces families and pets. And if you haven’t already done so, it’s never too early to consider emergency plans for your own pets. FEMA offers a checklist if you need help getting started.

5 thoughts on “New beginnings for little miracles: the littlest tornado survivors acclimate to new surroundings

  1. Laura Humphreys

    Another beautifully written piece Diana, thank you for updating, you know so many of us appreciate the time you have put in to this to help Marsha.


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