DJ Becker/The Madera Tribune
A group of five or six shopping carts filled with neatly folded blankets, clothing and other belongings, lined up along the river trail near Schnoor Avenue recently.
A growing group of the chronically homeless, allegedly drug-using population in Madera is again defiling the banks of the Fresno River, just north of the Tozer Bridge, according to area residents.
Makeshift tarps, tents, shacks and shopping carts litter both sides of the shoreline. Trails worn in the dry weeds lead down to blankets, sleeping bags and filthy mattresses hidden under scrub trees. Large piles of scattered debris from fouled and abandoned campsites line the riverbanks and float in the river near the city limit line.
North county resident and truck driver Steve Elkins said he recently was startled and disturbed by what he saw as he was driving home at 2 a.m. from his night job hauling freight.
“It was about 2:30 a.m. As I came around the corner on Raymond Road, there was a woman walking right in front of me, in the middle of the road. She was dirty and disheveled, not looking up or around and I almost hit her. She didn’t even look up. Then I noticed five or six other people along the roadsides. They looked like something out of the ‘Walking Dead’ movies — like zombies … aimless, filthy, drugged-up, walking skeletons in rags. It was creepy, shocking and very disturbing. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was just sickening to think people are living in the bushes along the river like this. And I doubt the area residents have seen this or are even aware of it. If they had seen it, they’d be scared.” Elkins said.
Elkins said he had seen all the…
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