Three weeks ago, Gil Lawson was sleeping on a bench near Willow Square in Phoenix. It was 2 a.m. when he jolted awake as rain droplets pelted his face.
“This is gonna be fun,” he thought facetiously.
The 54-year-old had nowhere to go. He moved to a bus stop with an awning over it and attempted to take shelter from the wind behind a short wall. But the rain from the sudden monsoon was hitting him from all angles. It was no use.
“It was coming down sideways,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘You know, you have enough to worry about already’ … I thought, ‘This sucks, really.’ I don’t want to say that word, suck, but it sucks.”
Lawson spent the rest of the night roaming around in the rain. His backpack, social security card, and ID were ruined in the process.
“Things tend to fall apart,” Lawson says. “Especially in the rain.”
Gil is no stranger to getting caught in the rain. He’s been in and out of homes and homeless shelters for the last four years, rarely staying in one place for more than 90 days.
And Lawson is not alone.
Of the estimated 5,605 homeless individuals in Maricopa County this year, about 2,059 are unsheltered, according to the Maricopa County’s 2017 Homeless Point in Time count.
As the moisture from Mexico flows to Phoenix up Interstate 10, the warm tropical air brings thunderstorms from mid-July to September, state climatologist Nancy Selover says.
These summer months tend to be especially brutal for those who are unsheltered. Whether it’s the rain, wind, haboobs, or blistering heat, Phoenix’s homeless are at risk during…
click here to read more.