‘Snowball’ rescued from smoke stack

Published 3:50 am Saturday, December 21, 2019

Joann Bell listened closely to the rumbling in her chimney.

She glanced at the calendar. Christmas was still days away. It was not time for Santa Claus, so what was the noise coming from inside her chimney?

The Brundidge resident did not find an answer to her question for several hours. Then, she heard the desperate whining of a cat.

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Missing from Bell’s three outdoor cats was Snowball, admittedly her favorite.

“I could hear Snowball’s crying from way up in the chimney but I couldn’t see him,” she said. “I called him and he would cry back but I couldn’t get him to come down.”

All that night, Snowball cried and all the next morning. Bell called the police station, the humane society and friends and neighbors. Nobody knew how to get a cat out of the chimney.

Bell said the chimney stack is probably 20 feet tall.

“What my husband, Lester, decided was that Snowball had climbed the big pecan tree next to the house and onto one of the branches that hangs over the house,” Bell said. “What we decided he got out on the limb that’s right up against the chimney. Somehow he fell off and went down in the chimney.”

All day and night, Snowball whined and cried. He cried on into the next day and night. Bell called him over and over.

“I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “Nobody knew what to do. I was so afraid he was going to die in the chimney.”

Bell said Snowball became so weak that she could hardly hear his whining.

“He hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for more than two days. I was so worried and upset. It broke my heart to hear him crying. I just knew he was dying.”

And, just when she thought all hope was gone, on the third day, Timmy Keel, a Brundidge City employee came to Snowball’s rescue.

As Bell had done, Keel called to Snowball but could he coax him down. But he had a plan.

With the help of Trey Davis, who also works for the city, Keel thought he could rescue the cat.

“We got a ladder and went up on the high roof and set the ladder up next to the chimney,” Keel said. “I got up on the ladder and looked over but I couldn’t see the cat. I told Trey not to let me fall while I leaned down in the chimney. I leaned down to about the top of my chest. I finally saw the cat on a narrow ledge in the chimney. I thought I could poke him off the ledge.”

Keel and Davis went inside and surveyed the inside of the chimney and found there was another ledge about five feet up.

“We put pillows on that ledge to catch Snowball when he fell,” Keel said. “Then, we went back on the roof and up the ladder. I took a pole and reached down in the chimney and dragged Snowball off the ledge.”

The cat tumbled about 10 feet down the chimney and onto the soft landing awaiting him.

But the rescue efforts were not finished. Snowball was on the pillows but still not out of the chimney.

Keel went inside and stretched and reached up the chimney about five feet and brought Snowball to safety.

Bell had been so nervous that she had stayed in the kitchen until she heard Snowball was out of the chimney.

Bell gave Snowball a hug and went right back into the kitchen and fixed him a plate of chicken and grits.

She thanked Keel and Davis for making Christmas merry and bright for her and Snowball. If Santa Claus had come down her chimney, Bell said that would not have made her as happy as when Snowball came tumbling down.