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The Sad Story of the Woman Who Died in a Camper Fire Last Week
A woman was touched by tragedy.
by Regina Henderson
I befriended a homeless woman whose camper broke down on Ocean St last week which was pushed on to my block. Anyone who knows me.. knows I don’t look kindly regarding this sort of thing. After 2 days, I left a terse note saying “You are being watched.. Move your vehicle” …young sketchy looking guys hanging out, garbage, shopping cart, guys on bikes coming by…. as time went on I realized the owner/occupant was a woman maybe my age.. but looked 70. I got to know her a bit … while she tried to work on her engine, I got to know her name,..Debbie.. how long she’d beein in town …since 1987…. 17 yr. old son in Felton… and she wanted to get back up there. ..she was in need of guidance and help…and I wanted to help her…while she worked on the engine every day, we chatted and I became invested in wanting to help her as her story unfolded… I told her to find someone to tow it back to Felton… she had just received the 72 hour notice…I called HSC to get help for her, a nice guy Kevin gave me his personal # and said he would tow her but needed tow straps..
I gave her his info… checked up on her… she said she was often victimized by “the 26 year old homeless kids” (her words not mine) she said she was like their mom and they took advantage of her… stole her medication, her $ etc. I checked up on her this morning and she said she wasnt feeling well… she was in the loft bed and complained about friends who did not return with the groceries she paid for etc…..
I told her to take care of herself and asked if she needed anything to help her feel better.. she thanked me and said no……About 4 PM today my husband yelled out as he was leaving on a bike ride… The RV is on fire…….I ran out and up to her truck when the firetrucks where …. just as I got there they were laying Debbie on the ground…she was not alive….. this has touched my soul on a profound and deep level…going over this with Keith late tonight…
I cant help but wonder Why? of all the “characters” I have met over the years, and the many “transients” I have encounted in this town the last 10 years…why Debbie…. why did I get so involved with trying to help this one lost soul???.. Keith said it kind of perfectly in one word “Eerie” This experience will last with me the rest of my days … RIP Debbie… I know you will be treated far better on the other side than you were treated here….
Ocean’s 11 Neighborhood Watch
One activist, Gary Johnson, received a two-year sentence for sleeping four nights on the bench at the courthouse with a “Sleep is Not a Crime” sign. Yet the drumbeat to make life harder for the poor outside gets louder. Vigilante groups spur the Mayor’s anti-homeless Task Force on Public Safety to propose ever more repressive legislation and harsher enforcement.
But, as Regina’s story, experience, and research shows, once people really look into what’s available, who’s impacted, and even the cost of the current War on the Poor, the picture shifts harshly into focus. Perhaps there is hope after all.