The Herald Bulletin

December 23, 2013

Homeless for the holidays

Couple says each winter day a fight for survival

By Traci Moyer The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Bitter winds pulled on the frayed ends of an American flag and cut through the flimsy material of the tent Michael Camp has erected behind Marshalls on Scatterfield Road.

It was 27 degrees outside.

“It’s been really rough the last couple of days,” Camp said Monday as he turned his back and drew his jacket tighter around his body.

Camp, 57, is a homeless military veteran originally from Gainesville, Texas.

The tent and coat were both gifts from strangers and have since become prized possessions, Camp said.

They help to keep him warm and dry.

“I’m trying to make it through the winter,” he said. “You just have to make it from one day to the next.”

Camp, who has been in Anderson since June, said he was traveling through the area to reach family in Minnesota when he became stranded due to transportation issues.

In September, he met Candi Clark, who was out of work and also had nowhere to live.

“I was sitting in the park and he rode by on his bicycle,” Clark said. “I asked him for a cigarette and he said it looked like I could use some help. He told me he could only offer me a tent, but it was better than what I had.”

Clark, standing in flimsy knock-off Crocs with large holes in them, said she is not a victim of abuse and has no income making her ineligible for any assistance with the exception of a shelter, but because of regulations she could not stay with Camp in a shelter.

She said her age and the fact that she does not have transportation keep employers from hiring her.

The couple has been camped behind the Marshalls store since September and said each winter day in Indiana is a fight for survival.

During the recent snowstorms, the couple temporarily abandoned their tent in the middle of the night and faced the storm at the front of the stores anywhere they could find shelter. They were worried the snow would cause their tent to collapse.

It did.

To stay warm, Clark and Camp use the money that people give them to buy propane for a small portable heater and they have blankets. They also have a fishing pole to catch fish.

Anderson Police Chief Larry Crenshaw said the couple has been told to leave the area.

“We had to give them a shelf life because they cannot just keep living there,” he said. “But it is going to take some time — they have a lot of stuff back there.”

The couple was told on Friday that they had to leave their current location by Sunday, but they say there is nowhere for them to go.

“We are hoping maybe they would have a heart,” Clark said. “I mean it is Christmas time — please!”

Both Camp and Clark say they have family, but for one reason or another they are unable to turn to them for assistance.

“There are a lot of us in Anderson,” Clark said. “We are better off than most.”

Like Traci L. Moyer on Facebook and follow her @moyyer on Twitter, or call 648-4250.