Racing to patch RV roofs ahead of the rain at Richmond encampment
on October 20, 2021
Advocates worked Tuesday to weatherproof recreational vehicles at an encampment in Richmond in preparation for heavy rainfall this week.
Two Bay Area advocacy organizations — NeighborAid and Safe Organized Spaces! Richmond — spent the afternoon at Castro and Hensley streets, sealing cracks to protect as many of the nearly 30 parked vehicles there as they could.
Richmond City Council has debated how to better serve the many people living in vehicles. In January 2020, 1,750 people in Richmond were without homes, including more than 600 who were living in vehicles, according to a report by city staff. That was before the pandemic put many people out of work, closed shelters and increased the number of people needing housing.
Those living in vans and RVs have some shelter from the elements, but a number of the RVs in the Castro encampment are dilapidated, allowing water to seep through.
The rain that arrived Tuesday is expected to last through Sunday and get heavier, bringing up to 3 ½ inches of rain, said Jeff Lorber, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“Our wettest, strongest system is going to come through Sunday, and that one’s going to be a real soaker,” Lorber said.
Daniel Barth, director of SOS! Richmond, and Ryan Manka-White, a worker with NeighborAid, hoped to use rubber paint to seal the RV roofs, but there wouldn’t have been enough time for the paint to seal by Tuesday night. Instead, the group decided to caulk as many leaks as possible.
“By all means,” Cassandra Terpening, a resident at the encampment, said when Manka-White offered to patch gaps in her roof near the front of her RV. Earlier this year, rain spilled from that leak directly on to her bed.
Renee Castillo, another resident, said that last winter, her husband patched holes in the RV’s roof whenever they noticed rain leaking in. She was happy to have help from Barth and Manka-White.
Castillo said the sealing would help keep the cold out too.
“Here, it’s cold in the morning, it’s nice and warm in the afternoon, and by after 5 p.m., it’s already cold,” Castillo said.
Another issue is mold, Manka-White said, noting that water in an RV allows mold to grow, which can be a health hazard.
After about two hours of sealing RVs, Manka-White wiped his hand on his jeans and stood up, observing his work.
“We’re trying to make things better. It’s not going to have to look perfect,” he said, as he moved on to the next crack.
After three hours, Manka-White said he managed to seal the roofs of six RVs, and another worker patched the seams around the windows and vents of four RVs. While they didn’t have the time or resources to patch all of the encampment’s RVs that day, they hope to return with a larger team.
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