El Niño and The Homeless

This is a story about how a church would like to help people like Jim Petty and Donna Dixon, but the two homeless people living on a street corner in Van Nuys have no interest in their help.

Because of predictions of El Niño-triggered storms a massive effort is underway to help the homeless. Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission have a pair of shelters they've opened a month early with lots of cots, chairs, food and tvs. They're handled on a first-come-first-served basis each day and are primarily for the colder winter months. But, while Petty and Dixon appreciate what the shelters are doing they don't think they'll be customers.

Dixon doesn't like moving around all of the time. She says she'd rather have a tarp over their encampment.

Their makeshift home is a collection of shopping carts, sheets and things they've collected including a kitten. It's open air. When you live like this Petty and Dixon say it's hard to know what's next. But, they know about El Nino and the rains being predicted.

Says Dixon, "It's going to be wet and we're really not prepared."

Pastor, Dr. Dudley Chatman says preparation is a big part of the battle. He gives this story as an example. He says a "lady who was here last night she said she was beside the LA River and she wanted to go off from there because she doesn't know when the water's going to rise."

That's why LA County Sheriffs Search and Rescue and other organizations are making note of homeless encampment locations. They're mapping them so if there is a sudden flood or slide they can jump in and help. Bymapping homeless encampments Deputies and LAPD officers can warn the homeless before a storm hits.

To former LA Fire Chief and current Emergency Management Dept General Manager Jim Featherstone the homeless will be notified on a priority basis to make sure those who tend not to keep up with things like weather forecasts are aware of what's coming toward them.

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