Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rescuing Marcus Claudius

I first became alarmed at the welfare of the inhabitants in the encampments adjacent to the Green Tree Mobile Home Estates at around 7 in the morning of December 15, 2008.

According to various weather sources, there was a substantial winter storm wreaking havoc throughout San Diego County with record low temperatures and considerable precipitation events during the day. By 9:30 a.m., they were forced to evacuate through a makeshift bridge they had fashioned from a felled tree... all except for one, a 49 year old transient named Marcus Claudius.

The water was rising fast and I knew the terrain around his area in the encampment was basically being surrounded by a swift moving, cold, dank wall of muddy water. What use to be a trail leading up to his lonely island is under at least 10 feet of water and a few trees nearby would possibly be strong enough to cling to.

I can pick up his voice in the howling wind. He sounds exhausted, possibly intoxicated, a slight quiver I can barely detect in his pronunciations tells me he might be suffering from being exposed to such conditions. He tells me to leave him be that he is fine but I can't leave that sort of assessment to someone inebriated and incapable to a dangerous degree of processing his current situation.

I called a Escondido Community Officer and requested someone to respond to the scene. After some quick evaluations of the challenges at hand, it was determined that a variety of assets needed to be involved in what would eventually turn out to be swift river rescue.

Ironically, although it is one of the city's most prominent and least endearing features, we have not seemingly considered having this type of training facility in an area along the flood control channel.

Nevertheless, Escondido Fire, Elfin Forest, Encinitas, San Diego, Carlsbad, Del Mar with some of these agencies contributing both fire and lifeguard personnel coordinated at times from the air from an asset provided by San Diego Fire rescued the man in about 4 hours.

Led from his last vestige of dignity and personal space, having clutched desperately to the root(s) within the soil now mounds awash and shifting below and around him. The small encirclement of young trees slightly on higher ground a residence once gathered together from a tent, some tarp and a collection of scavenged items to somehow patch the quilt work of final desperation and surrender to alcoholism together. It seemed that great Claudius was willing to succumb to his life's sufferings here amongst the cold wet wrath, lonely, dirty, drunk, shivering and starving. physically. psychologically. financially. emotionally. Exhausted in so many ways...

It is the King's horses and men in the guise of firemen and lifeguards who lead him to his carriage... a raft accompanied by an entourage set forth to pluck him from his desolations. He is draped in his finery, a sleeping bag set carefully and gingerly upon his shoulders. He chews his gum casually as if to ward off his close encounter with death with a breath of his freshened and recently rescued air.

We could have spent the money exhausted in the rescue on other projects such as a vigorous policing through ordinance improvements of current laws related to vagrancy, loitering, public intoxication, vandalism to say the least.

We may have, in the interest of social concerns and how to adequately address the concerns of grown ups who somehow have lost their ability to function, spent some of the money on facilitating a ranch/ farm diversion program that houses recovering alcoholics. Their manpower can be utilized to help care for injured animals, to farm the land in producing vegetables, food staples and other acquired processes that can render the establishment self sufficient.

Just one idea amongst a host that I have an interest in putting forth and discussing the feasibility thereof. I hope I am joined by many more in the time to come who also share my interest in re-establishing a sense of pioneerism in seeking to promote solutions that are more oriented in practicality as opposed to politics.

We can little and ill afford to continue along a same track that allowed for the rescue to be necessary in the first place and so before we tackle what seems to be the bigger problems, maybe we would be best served in simply mending the hole in a fence that has done little in keeping trouble out. I suppose we can begin with that...

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