Noelle Swan

Occupy Boston Protesters Weather First Snowstorm of the Season

Noelle Swan
New England Post
October 31, 2011
 

Little evidence of the weekend’s nor’easter remained at Occupy Boston on Sunday. With most of the snow melted just hours after it had fallen in an unseasonably early snowstorm on Saturday night, protesters hung a few blankets out to dry and shifted their attention to celebrating the occupation’s one month birthday with cake, balloons, and a dance party.

The protesters camping in Dewey Square in protest of economic inequality dodged a bullet Saturday night. Much of the state saw a foot of snow and hundreds of thousands lost power as trees and transformers collapsed under the weight of heavy, wet snow. Boston managed to escape with little more than a dusting that all but disappeared by midday Sunday.

Alex Ingram, a former service member and member of the Occupy Boston media team said that the protesters prepared well for the cold and snow. “We came up with a plan that some people would stay up all night and knock snow off of people’s tents so they didn’t cave in,” Ingram said. He said that these efforts were mostly successful.

A few tents did collapse under the weight of the wet snow. “All people had to do was knock on somebody else’s tent and even if it was tight, they squeezed in and made room,” Ingram said. “This is just another example of people helping people around camp,” he added.

Jonathon Marciano, an EMT from Brockton  who volunteers as a medic at Occupy Boston, was on-call throughout the storm. “It was a very quiet night,” he said, “No frostbite and no drama.”

Ingram said that last minute purchases of sleeping bags, new tents, rubber boots, hats, and scarves had made the night bearable. “I know when I did finally did go to sleep, I was toasty.”

Marciano said he managed to stave off the cold in his one-person tent with nine sleeping bags. “At a certain point, I had to peel off some layers,” he added.

Some of the tent city’s newest occupants were not quite as prepared for the cold.

Nymah, a homeless man from Boston said that he gave up his bed at the homeless shelter Shaddock House to move into the tent city this weekend. “I left the shelter to come here because this is a good cause,” he said. Nymah and his tent-mate, Jay, had been waiting for a space to open up in the crowded camp. A tent became available on Saturday, and the two took it despite the coming storm.

Nymah said that he had recently competed OSHA certification to weatherize people’s homes and is in the process of looking for work. His new home, a two-person tent provided by Occupy Boston protesters, offered little protection from the winds and wet snow. The two huddled beneath several blankets and tried to keep as dry as possible. On Sunday afternoon, Occupy volunteers found them each a sleeping bag and a bigger tent.

Anita Thomkins, a homeless artist from Boston, also said she left a shelter to stay at the camp. She said that she has experience riding out the cold. “Moisture is the real problem,” she said, “If you get wet, you’re not going to dry until the air dries out after the storm.”

On Sunday, small pools of melted snow collected all around the camp. One volunteer used a towel to mop up the inside of a tent that had taken on water a lot of water in the night. Ingram said that people around the camp would soon shake out the ground tarps to move puddles before they have a chance to freeze.

John Ford, an independent bookseller from Salem said that a group is still actively pursuing ideas to further weatherize the camp. He declined to offer specific details other than citing a general need for military grade clothing and tents.

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