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Charleston mayor orders ‘Tent City’ dismantled

Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Chris Dorst “Tent City” residents leave with the belongings they could carry on Tuesday afternoon, after city police and workers shut down the homeless encampment along the Elk River.
Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Chris Dorst
“Tent City” residents leave with the belongings they could carry on Tuesday afternoon, after city police and workers shut down the homeless encampment along the Elk River.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Police and city workers ejected the 20 to 30 residents of Charleston’s “Tent City” along the Elk River on Tuesday afternoon, after pressure from property owner Waste Management to remove the people living along the Elk River beneath the Spring Street Bridge.

“It’s not prudent for us to allow that situation to exist where people are sleeping along the riverbank in 5-degree weather,” Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said at a news conference Tuesday.

Jones said he made the decision to get rid of Tent City last week, although the move Tuesday came after the two coldest nights of the winter. It also came one day after a story on the front page of the Gazette-Mail about Tent City.

On Monday, homeless people at Tent City were accepting donations from people worried about them staying warm this winter. Local residents brought members of the tiny community blankets, tents, sleeping bags, coats and propane heaters as the weather turned colder.

On Tuesday afternoon, they were packing up their things to go, although tents and numerous other items were left behind at the homeless encampment, located along the Elk River near the Spring Street Bridge.

“Almost two and half years I’ve lived here,” one man told a reporter. “All of a sudden they’ve got a problem with it?”

George Lively, an outreach specialist with social services agency Prestera Center, said that all of the people living at Tent City would be taken to local homeless shelters or to stay with friends. He knew of one man who had disappeared, but he said he planned to drive around to find that man and make sure he was sheltered Tuesday night.

He was asked if someone could end up on the streets…

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