A dramatic photo of a man fleeing Hurricane Florence’s floodwaters with a soggy kitten perched on his shoulder has moved people around the United States.
Robert Simmons Jr. and his kitten, aptly named “Survivor,” were photographed by Andrew Carter, a reporter for North Carolina’s News & Observer. The photo went massively viral after Carter posted it on Twitter Friday.
Carter wrote that Simmons had been stuck in his house in New Bern since the night before due to rising waters. Simmons wanted his father to come with him on the rescue boat, but the father wanted to stay behind, according to Carter.
“He was sad to leave his father but left with his kitten hugging his neck,” Carter wrote. “Cat’s name: Survivor.”
Simmons told Carter in a longer interview published in The News & Observer, “I’m an animal lover.” He also said he was unable to bring the kitten’s mother with him because “she’s a wild cat.”
Another photo shows Survivor huddled inside Simmons’ jacket.
Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Friday morning as a Category 1 storm, but it’s the torrential rain, not the wind, that poses the biggest threat to those in its path. By Friday night, Morehead City, North Carolina, had already received 23 inches of rain.
And the National Weather Service tweeted on Saturday morning that “it may be hard to believe,” but much more rain is still on the way ― with more than 15 inches of rain still to come in parts of the Carolinas.
As of Saturday morning, the storm had left multiple people dead and knocked out power to 930,000 homes.
This story has been updated to reflect a changing death count estimate.