NEWARK, NJ – When the snow began to fall in Newark, a 77-year-old homeless woman sought shelter in her van. Only a few hours later, she woke up to find snow everywhere.
And that’s when she realized she was trapped.
On Thursday – three days after a freezing winter storm hit Brick City more than three feet of snow – Newark firefighters rescued a woman stranded in her vehicle near Lincoln Park.
It was the end of a strange and desperate ordeal for the woman who told Fox 5 New York that she usually spends the night in her vehicle but stays in a hotel when the temperature is too low.
“I have to pay my bills or pay my rent – so I pay my bills,” she said.
But this time, when she woke up, she found that a snow plow had blocked her.
She had something to eat and drink, but since there was no pedestrian traffic in the area due to the storm, her only way to get help was on her phone. First she tried to call 911. However, when she was allegedly told that no one could help her, the woman turned to Newark public safety officials, News 12 New Jersey reported.
From then on, it got a little complicated, the authorities said.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose released a joint statement regarding the incident which included the following details:
“Around 3:30 p.m. [on Wednesday]The woman contacted Newark police and said she could not get out of her van because it was stuck in the snow. She gave an address of 67 Lincoln Park. The public safety telecommunications provider incorrectly logged the address as 67 Lincoln Street. When the police arrived at this address and could not find the vehicle, they called back the number the woman had called from but received no answer. “
Here’s what happened next, Newark authorities said:
“Around 9:30 a.m. [on Thursday]The woman contacted the Newark firefighters, who responded at 9:36 a.m. and located the woman in the vehicle. Firefighters shoveled a way to the driver’s door and freed them from the vehicle. The woman refused to receive medical care or support at an animal shelter or the home of a family member. Firefighters continued to offer to shovel out their vehicle, which they also refused. “
The Newark Office of Homeless Services is working to offer help to the woman. However, she is reportedly uncomfortable staying in a homeless shelter.
“We regret that human error helped delay our response to the correct address, despite trying to call them for correction,” said Ambrose. “I am grateful that she got back in touch and that this incident did not end tragically.”
That winter, Newark had more close conversations with the homeless in freezing weather.
In late January, Newark police and a social services lawyer found shelter for a homeless man after he was found in a tent under an overpass. Continue reading: The homeless Newark man is given protection after being seen living in the tent under the flyover
Their joint effort came just in time. Only a few days later, the city activated its “Code Blue” alarm, which is triggered if the temperatures should drop below 25 degrees without rain or snow and with precipitation or a wind chill factor from zero to 32 degrees.
During a Code Blue in Newark, several animal shelters provide a place to keep those in need warm (see list below).
But while some homeless people have found rest during the recent cold snap, others haven’t.
On Monday, police received a call about a man lying in the snow near Lincoln Park – the same location where the rescue took place on Thursday. The man believed to be homeless was rushed to the university hospital with severe hypothermia and was later pronounced dead, TAP Into Newark reported.
Newark was home to 1,859 homeless people – about 86 percent of the total homeless population in Essex County, according to a statewide census in January 2020.
In the past few years, the City of Newark has launched various initiatives and programs to help homeless residents, some of whom ended up in New Jersey after moving from New York City.
On Friday, Mayor Baraka and Sakinah Hoyte, the city’s tsar for homelessness, announced that Newark had partnered with five developers and service providers to create 100 temporary, permanent and supportive housing units.
The selected partners include:
- Monarch Housing Associates / Bridges Outreach, Inc.
- Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation / North Jersey Community Research Initiative (NJCRI)
- ETTA Investments LLC / Soldier ON, Urban Agriculture Cooperative, Greater Newark Conservancy, CareSparc Consulting Inc., and The Mental Health Association of New Jersey
- Domus Corporation / Archdiocese of Newark Catholic Charities
- 10th and 11th Street Homes LLC / AIDS Resource Foundation for Children (ARFC)
“It has long been my vision to offer our residents without addresses adequate, livable and supportive accommodation so that they can achieve their personal independence,” said Baraka.
“These partnerships will help service providers and developers small and large have new ways to work together and provide critical, temporary and permanent support accommodation for our most vulnerable people,” added the Mayor.
Newark Firefighters Rescue 77 year old woman seeking shelter in a mini van during a snow storm https://t.co/E551gzy9SO via @Nextdoor pic.twitter.com/zabk2qhSlR
– Public Safety Department (@NewarkNJPolice) February 4, 2021
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