Thanks to a cat that's apparently part homing pigeon, one potentially sad superstorm Sandy story has a happy ending.
In early November, 8-year-old Porsche was evacuated by rubber boat from Chadwick Island, Toms River, along with his owners, Uranie Roberts and her daughter Carol Baumann.
They'd stayed through the storm, but after losing power, gas and water, went to stay with in-laws in Point Pleasant, about eight miles away.
After just a few days, Porsche escaped.
The animal authorities were alerted, and the family followed up every so-called sighting for nearly six months. His tags were attached to a break-away collar that could have easily came off, Roberts, 86, said by phone this morning.
"I never gave up hope," she said, though she feared that "maybe he crossed the rainbow bridge, as they say from that poem about animals that pass on."
On April 29, Roberts and Baumann returned home without ever finding Porsche.
Two days later, last Wednesday, they heard a noise on the deck and opened the blinds.
"I saw the green eyes and I said, 'My God in heaven, it's Porsche!' " Baumann, 62, told NBC10.
The cat had crossed a bridge all right - probably the one over the Point Pleasant Canal, about a half-mile from where they were staying. That left more than seven miles to go, largely south through Shore towns hard-hit by Sandy.
"I am astounded, I'll tell you, that he made it," Roberts said.
No way he used memory to retrace the evacuation route - unless he swam.
"He wouldn't even have a scent trail because he was in his cat carrier in a boat going north being frightened out of his little life," Roberts said.
Perhaps Porsche, sometimes allowed to roam outside at home, started out heading toward the sound of the ocean - he knew he'd lived much closer to it - for the first mile or so, before wandering till the sounds of beach and bay sounded just right, or saw familiar landmarks.
Maybe he had some help, like handouts along the way, or even a final lift from someone who recognized the cat.
That would explain how he seemed fit and well-fed after what Roberts called his "journey of a lifetime."
"I would not be surprised at anything," Roberts said. "It's like waiting for the other shoe to drop or the other piece of the puzzle. ... It clearly looks like he must have been somewhere."
Still, she called the cat's return a "miracle" to 6ABC.
"I used to say prayers, and I used to say blessed St. Francis, please watch over my Porsche."
Except for being dug out of hiding so camera crews could get some footage, he's back to his old routines - like switching from bed to bed to rocking chair.
Even if now, as Roberts puts it, "he's a man of the world, of the cat world."