SAN DIEGO — A homeless advocate has set up a GoFundMe page in order to help unhoused individuals that lost their belongings from the rising river levels.
The continuous rain has flooded several areas across San Diego County in the San Diego Riverbed. This has impacted hundreds of homeless who call the San Diego Riverbed their home.
Michael McConnell, who has helped and advocated for the homeless for more than a decade, said the unhoused who set up tents along the riverbed, lost everything, including their tents, blanket and clothes.
“This flooding was the worse than I think I’ve ever seen,” McConnell said. He claims the latest count, an estimated 400 people live along the San Diego Riverbed from Ocean Beach to Lakeside.
“Folks are down in the riverbed, just trying to stay hidden and they stay down there until they have to leave and sometimes it’s too late,” McConnell explained. “Sometimes the river is rising so fast they literally just have to grab their only belongings, their only important belongings and just run, run out of the riverbed.”
The flooding can be seen in several areas across the county, including behind Fashion Valley. The flooding has closed Avenida Del Rio in Mission Valley, which McConnell said, is where several homeless had set up their encampments.
“It’s heartbreaking because I know these folks, I know who they are here and until I see them and know they are okay, its troubling to see somebody’s home literally underwater where I knew they were the day before,” McConnell said. “There were folks walking around barefoot in the cold and rain because they literally lost their shoes, they had to leave so fast.”
McConnell said he has passed out dozens of tents, blankets and food to the now-displaced homeless over the last few days since the rain.
“That’s a lot of folks that can keep dry, can keep warm, who otherwise might have to wait until the rain even ends before they can even go out and try to recycle and get enough money to buy it themselves,” McConnell explained. “We’re going to get as much stuff out to people until the rains are over until the next time.”
McConnell usually buys the items with his own money but he was convinced to set up a GoFundMe page to help his efforts and the donations have been pouring in over the last two days.
“I raised $2,000 just (Sunday) yesterday for the riverbed effort, along with the thousands of dollars I’ve spent,” McConnell said. “It goes a long way.”