A meteorologist based in southwest Florida received backlash on social media after posting a video of a cat surrounded by rushing waters outside his local news building as Hurricane Ian reached landfall.
Dylan Federico, who works for Fort Myers station WINK News, posted a seven-second video to Twitter on Wednesday showing a small, darkly colored cat huddled on top of a bench that appears to be just beyond the building’s doors. He said that the doors were “locked but we’re trying to get the kitten inside.”
Federico has since deleted the original video from his account, but posted an update on the situation later in the day saying that the cat swam away from the building before he and his colleagues could bring it to safety.
“I waited to post an update in hopes we could grab it,” wrote Federico. “Please take your companions with you when you evacuate.”
Despite Federico’s insistence that efforts were made to save the endangered animal, some users have called his failure to bring the kitten inside the building “disgusting.” Twitter user Kelly wrote in response to Federico’s update, “So you didn’t save it and just watched it have zero chance of survival…. Good job!”
“You want us to believe that the kitten bravely leaped into that moving water and swam in another direction at Olympic speeds that no one could grab at it?” Twitter user Dara Faye said in a response.
One of Federico’s WINK News colleagues, meteorologist Juliana Mejia, also posted a picture of the stranded cat, who appears to look at the direction of the camera when the photo was taken. Mejia has also deleted her picture of the stranded feline.
Twitter user Lynsey posted a screenshot of Mejia’s original tweet, saying: “So does everyone at @winknews hate animals?!” The user also tagged Federico in their post.
Meteorologist Katie Nickolaou came to Federico’s defense in response to his update on the situation, saying that “Anyone here to bash Dylan can stop.”
“Also, the type of door in the video is the kind that needs a key,” wrote Nickolaou, who reports for news station KMEG in Sioux City, Iowa. “Finding the key takes time. Any cat owner knows a cat can get spooked and run away in less than a second.”
Twitter user Sue Runs Far sympathized with Federico’s update, saying they were “sad [to] see the kitty was uncooperative,” adding that it was “probably terrified.”
Now a Category 4 hurricane, Ian hit the western coast of Florida near Cayo Costa, a barrier island located directly west of Fort Myers, at 3:05 p.m. local time on Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Fort Myers set a curfew starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday night in preparation of storm surge flooding that reached over 7 feet, which The Weather Channel said in a tweet was “record-breaking” for the city.
Federico posted an update to Twitter at 6:41 p.m. saying that the WINK News team had evacuated to the second floor of the building due to the high surge and that the fire department was aware of the crews’ location.
Newsweek reached out to Federico for comment.