Police & Fire

Westfield Firefighters, Neighbors Rescue Lost Cat from Storm Sewer

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Firefighers Steve Longo, John Gura, Craig Manning and Lou Cerchio with Liz Partelow and Graham. Credits: Chris Partelow
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Liz and Chris Partelow are reunited with their cat, Graham, who was apparently trapped in a storm sewer for five days. Credits: Chris Partelow
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Chris Partelow attempts to get Graham out of the storm sewer. Credits: Chris Partelow
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WESTFIELD, NJ — Chris Partelow and his wife, Liz Partelow, never gave up after their cat, Graham, went missing from their Westfield home on Dec. 31. Neither did friends, neighbors and complete strangers who helped find and ultimately rescue Graham from a storm sewer Thursday afternoon.

The Partelows spent the week looking everywhere, calling police, posting on social media and putting up flyers around town.

Both of the family’s cats are allowed to explore outside, Chris Partelow said, “But they never go far and they always come back.”

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He was beginning to fear the worst.

Then, on Thursday, he said, “I get a call from a woman I don’t know and she said, ‘I think I found you cat,’ and I hear a big ‘meow’ and I think, ‘Oh my God, it’s Graham.’”

Graham was in a storm sewer two blocks from his house. The Partelows later learned that the woman who called, Justine McCabe, had seen Graham in the sewer New Year’s Eve while walking her dog.  She called the fire department that night and they had tried to coax Graham out, but eventually assumed that he would get out on his own.

It wasn’t until Thursday, when she walked her dog near there again and again her dog brought her to the storm drain, that she saw a “missing” poster of Graham and realized he was still in there.

Neighbors worked together to lift the heavy grate from the storm drain and try to rescue Graham. When they couldn’t get him out out themselves, the Westfield Fire Department came to help.

When banging on the ground to encourage Graham to come out didn’t work, firefighters flushed water through the sewer to push out the possibly injured kitty, Partelow said.

 “Thank you to fantastic neighbors and an amazing fire department,” Partelow said. “He's at the vet now — expected to make a full recovery after some TLC. Thank you to the entire community for your support, advice vigilance and well wishes. We feel truly blessed to live in such a wonderful community.”

Partelow said he especially wanted to thank McCabe, Karen Fitzgerald and Elyce Hirtler and the firefighters who helped get Graham out safely.

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