SEASIDE, Ore. — King tides are hitting the Oregon coast this weekend, and it’s impacting homeless camps in Seaside. Many of the camps are in lower elevation areas, and residents have had to pack up and move this week before their campsites flood.
“When you get wet and cold and there’s no warming up…” said Robert, a homeless resident in Seaside, discussing the added difficulties of living outside in a coastal town known for heavy rainstorms and extreme tides.
Robert lives in a tent at Seaside’s Mill Ponds homeless camp, and he was in the process of moving his tent earlier this week because it’s all too easy to see how the weekend’s predicted 11-foot swells could swamp the area.
“That’s where it’ll be coming from,” he said, gesturing to one side of the campsite, “because this water goes up and down every day anyway with the tides.”
Recent rainstorms have caused large puddles to form around Robert’s tent, and he said he’s been lucky to avoid getting any water in the tent so far, but the king tides pose a much more dangerous threat.
Other camp residents told KGW that it’s common for tents to float away during extreme tides if they aren’t moved in advance. A disabled homeless man was once washed into the nearby river inside his tent, according to Susan Rhay with Clatsop Behavioral Health.
The nonprofit is trying to proactive approach to the high tides this year, but the process remains challenging.
“They are asked to move and go to higher ground, but unfortunately there aren’t that many places to go,” Rhay said.
The campers have to pack up their entire homes and all of their belongings to move, and a lot of things can get soaked in the process even if they manage to avoid the direct impact of the high tides.
“They lose a lot of their life every time it storms,” she said.
For Robert and other homeless residents, it’s another difficult element of life in Seaside that they have to navigate.
“It takes time to put up the tent and take it down, and it just takes up your whole day,” said Linda, another Seaside resident experiencing homelessness.