Monday, February 6, 2023

Homeless campers trying to survive as storm hits California

Sacramento.- In the American River the wind was pulling the rain almost sideways. Just two nights earlier, a nearby tree fell on a woman, killing her in her sleep. Through the flap of a makeshift tent, 50-year-old Jose Reyes peered into the freezing rain as cold water splashed on canvas and toppled the rusted frame of the bed he was using as ballast. His sleeping bag was soaked. So were his socks and pants.

Behind her, a young woman munched on a wet Pringles, her bare feet thin and yellow from the mud beneath them. Reyes, part of a homeless encampment that has taken over this stretch of the avenue in Sacramento for years, said it’s been days since he’s been comfortable.

“I’m paying attention to the wind,” he said early Monday. “I wonder which tree will break next.”

From rural Sonoma County to the celebrity enclave of Montecito, the brutal parade of atmospheric rivers has tested California’s infrastructure and resilience. Roads have been flooded, levees have failed, landslides have closed roads, and strong winds have caused power outages for several days. At least 17 people have died since late December.

But some face a bigger challenge in the form of more than 170,000 homeless people in California. Not only does the state have the largest population of homeless residents in the country, but nearly 70 percent of them sleep in tents, vehicles or open public spaces, unlike colder places. In recent days, community workers have found them huddled in underpasses and riverbeds, in parks and on beaches.

In Ventura County, firefighters rescued at least 14 people Monday in heavy rain after floodwaters surrounded a homeless encampment on the Ventura River. In Sacramento County, officials said, at least two people, Steven Sorensen, 61, and Rebekah Rohde, 40, members of Camp American River, were killed outside in separate incidents over the weekend when large trees were weakened by storms and They fell on their tent. ,

Nation World News Desk
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