October 28, 2012

As Storm Reaches Ithaca, Jungle Residents Plan to Stay Put

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Several residents of a homeless encampment in the City of Ithaca said Monday that they are not afraid of the storm and plan to brave its ferocious wind and rain in their tents.

The Jungle, located in the woods just west of Agway, is home to many people accustomed to surviving torrential downpours, stifling heat waves and whatever else Mother Nature can muster, Jungle resident Jim Schehr said. At an impromptu meeting Monday morning, most of the Jungle’s inhabitants said they planned to stay in their homes as Hurricane Sandy sweeps north, according to Schehr.

“If one person goes through a rough time, we’ll all gather together and try to help each other — that’s the way it’s always been in the Jungle,” Schehr said. Otherwise, he said, each Jungle resident agreed to ensure that his own tent is prepared for the storm.

Schehr said the only reason the residents might leave is if the rain causes a nearby creek to overflow into their tents.

“We’re all staying through this,” Schehr said. “We’re animals, we know how to survive — it’s not like we haven’t been here before.”

Still, not all the Jungle residents were staying for the night. As the rain began to batter the tarp above his tent, a Jungle resident known as “Tattoo” was leaving to stay with a friend in Enfield — and taking his dog Digger with him.

“I don’t want a fucking tree to fall on my head … I’ve seen it happen before, too,” said Tattoo, who has lived in the Jungle for three years.

Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 said that the city is recommending that the Jungle residents take cover in a local shelter. Still, he said there were no plans currently for any “forced evacuations.”

Meanwhile, Schehr said that the Jungle residents might be better off in their tents than those up the hill.

“We got chairs: that’s it. We don’t have shit laying around; we don’t have electricity; we don’t have nothing to worry about,” he said. “The less materialistic you are, the less you have to prepare.”

Original Author: Jeff Stein