On a gloomy Thursday morning, Community Medical Centers and members of other San Joaquin County outreach programs walked through muddy puddles and rain to provide services for unhoused residents in Stockton faced with hazardous weather conditions.
CMC is a nonprofit that provides medical, dental and behavioral health care to more than 100,000 patients throughout San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo counties.
Residents were made aware of four warming centers that had pet accommodations and received food, hand gloves and a hygiene kit during the outreach.
The visits were timely as the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office said an approaching storm system could possibly bring thunderstorms Thursday afternoon and produce heavy winds and rain.
Andy Williams, an unsheltered man living near Mormon Slough, was given a sandwich and said he was going to relocate to his sister’s residence because his tent kept falling apart.
“It was all windy … it (his tent) tore apart, I had to make another one,” Williams said.
Rain last month, including a heavy storm last week, made it the wettest December on record for Stockton and left behind a trail of fallen trees, power outages and severe floods throughout the city.
Carreen Jenness said when last week’s heavy rain fell, she was living in a tent near a lumber yard in the south side of Stockton but had to relocate because the area became heavily flooded.
“In front of the lumber yard it turned into a mudslide, so we all came over here,” Jenness said.
Currently, she is living inside a van parked at McKinley Park with a couple and as of Thursday morning they were unsure if they’d attempt to stay at a warming center to wait out the storm.
Warming centers with pet accommodations include the Arnold Rue Community Center at 5758 Lorraine Ave., the Oak Park Senior Center at 730 E. Fulton St., the Stribley Community Center at 1760 E. Sonora St. and the Van Buskirk Community Center at 734 Houston Ave.
Arnold Rue Community Center has two cages available and said animals must be leashed, while Oak Park Senior Center has one portable kennel, Stribley Community Center has several kennels, and the Van Buskirk Community Center has one kennel that will be given on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Joseph Isquierdo, a substance abuse counselor at San Joaquin County Behavioral Health Services.
Linda Hudson with Community Medical Centers was moving at a fast pace with determination to spread information to unsheltered people that if they wanted to, they could be taken to a warming zone with their animals to keep warm.
She said her passion to help others comes from being a human caring about people.
“That’s our job to care about people,” Hudson said. “Those that are that less fortunate, people that are living on the outskirts, people that are disenfranchised … if you are able to help, it’s your job to help them.”
Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.