When I was asked by our editor to do the last word, I agreed and asked her, “What about?” She said, “Why don’t you talk about what it’s been like sleeping outside in these terrible storms.”
Well, here I go. To start with, my name is Frank Mearns, and I’ve been in Washington, D.C for two years now, but I haven’t experienced anything like this weather since moving here. Last year wasn’t so bad; I think we had maybe two or three days of snow, but nothing like this.
As you may have gathered, I am currently homeless and sleep at 14th and New York Avenue, next to Starbucks. I am not from Washington, D.C., but from Ireland and have been in America for four years now—not just in DC, but 15 different states and also 40 different countries all over the world. I’ve been homeless in every single one.
Sleeping on the streets during these storms has not been just hard for me, but also for the other 25 or so people that sleep beside me. During the last two storms we had no food trucks come out as they were unable to drive on the roads. Martha’s Table was still open for anyone that could manage to get up there, so one person went there for the rest of us. Sometimes the snow felt like it was endless, but other than Martha’s Table, the shelters were McDonald’s, Starbucks or anywhere we could find.
In the evening we had to be careful from falling snow from the “Porch” that we all sleep under, but during that time we got some much-deserved rest as we get woken up every day at 5 a.m. I would also like to state that the only person that did come to check on us was Miss Paula Dyan, the outreach worker from the Salvation Army. She gave us the necessities like gloves, hats, socks and scarves, but there were many people who never had blankets or anything else to keep warm as the hypothermia trucks were unable to come out.
There were some good Samaritans that ventured out into the wild weather just to make sure that we at least did get something to eat (Square Meals), but if it wasn’t for them, many people would have starved.
The reason I stayed out on the streets and never went to the shelters was because there are too many rules, diseases, bugs and too many people. In some shelters you are in a room with around 100 people that haven’t showered in days. There are sometimes drug dealers that hang around the shelters, preying on the homeless.
Shelters were also filling up: they would let the people stay there, but some are not within walking distance, and there was no way of getting there. So I would like to thank all of those people that did care enough not for their own safety, but for the many homeless people that were out there during this record-breaking storm.
This is how we the homeless people got through the Snowmageddon.