Dateline: June 14, 1999
Location: Albany Bulb Landfill; near Albany, California
Reporter: John Lionheart

Cold Wet Landfill Resident, *Animal* guides JP's waterlogged kayak back to safety

Cold, wet *Landfill Fleet* hero, Animal, guides the waterlogged kayak back to safety

Sunset yesterday (June 13, 1999) saw a heroic group of Albany landfill residents working frantically in the fading light to rescue a cold swimmer who had developed severe cramps and taken emergency refuge on a floating dock some 240 feet from the western shore. (See previous dock photo; Maps; and More Maps for orientation.) In a race against hypothermia and an incoming fog bank, the resourceful residents quickly appropriated a small kayak, inflated an inner tube, and fashioned a long tether from odd lengths of rope. Other residents yelled out encouragement to the frightened young man locked in chilly agony on the windswept dock. With Walter chest deep in the freezing surf extending the maximum tether and *Animal* carefully paddling the kayak, Robert, Mark and the rest of the crew managed to deliver the inner tube to the swimmer and put him on it and get him safely towed back to the shore. A couple hours spent cozily recuperating in front of a driftwood fire left the grateful swimmer happier than before. "I've been feeling bad lately," he had said earlier, "I've been abused a lot." He was much cheered later, though, that, "these guys saw me as somebody worth rescuing."

Grateful swimmer warms up with blanket and driftwood fire.

Caption: Grateful swimmer warms up with blanket and driftwood fire.

FOOTNOTE: Some sectors of the disaster relief community consider these more stable elements of our urban homeless populations particuarly well suited for emergency response and recovery operations. "They are mobile, resourceful, hard-working, selfless volunteers," said one federal disaster worker recently. We at iPoet have to say this spontaneous rescue proved something to us. You can count on these people "showing up" when the chips are down.

UPDATE: June 14th, 8 PM: City 'eviction' still on for tomorrow, June 15th. Residents say they may march with shopping carts and bikes through the Albany business district. "Our own trail of tears," says one mournful man.

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