Storm impacts South Bay homeless as frustrated advocates distribute dry supplies

Homeless advocates plan to distribute dry blankets and coats Friday night to those who lost belongings to rising floodwaters in San Jose this week. But many are frustrated that it's come to this. They say the homeless should have been evacuated from the creek beds and brought in from the rain.

As the Coyote Creek flooded, it spilled into a nearby encampment, sweeping away tents, and leaving behind a soggy, muddy mess. The homeless here wish they had been warned.

Mary Hope who lives near the creek says, "No we weren't. We weren't notified that the water was coming up that quick."

Just steps away sits the Roosevelt Community Center, which is one of San Jose's overnight warming centers. But despite the "atmospheric river" that rained down this week, it didn't open.

Homeless advocates can't understand why.

Shaunn Cartwright, a homeless advocate, says, "These people have been in the rain for days and its been torrential rain and so you just leave them here? That's what San Jose is about? We just leave leave people to die? I would think we would take them inside and warm them up."

City officials say they did do outreach along the creeks and that it was an all-hands on deck effort to reach as many people as possible.

But they say opening the warming center wasn't an option, since the non-profit that runs it requires 48 hours notice to prepare. She says they made their plan using information from the National Weather Service.

Ragan Henniger with the City of San Jose says, "There are just logistical issues to staffing a center and our service provider needs time to get their staffing in place."

And so the Roosevelt warming center will finally open tonight at 9pm. Jennifer Lopez, who is homeless, is prepared to wait hours to make sure she gets a spot.

She says, "I'll just wait around basically and just do what I got to do until they open."

Meanwhile, community members are stepping up by dropping off bags of coats and socks and ponchos.
They say they're just trying to replace what people lost in the floodwaters.

Sally Lieber brought bags of items from her recent coat drive. She says, "It's really heartening to see the reaction and to see that people understand that people who don't have housing are just like the rest of us."