LOCAL CALIFORNIA

150 homeless to pack up or face arrest as Orange County prepares to evict encampment

Morgan Gallerito removes her belongings from a large homeless encampment along the Santa Ana River trail. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Morgan Gallerito, who has spent months living along the dusty trail on the west side of the Santa Ana River, was determined to leave her homeless encampment in style Friday morning.

Despite a slight breeze and chill in the air, Gallerito bid her adieu in a rose-gold strapless cocktail dress with sparkles on the skirt.

The dress, seemingly more appropriate for a school dance or posh cocktail party than moving day, reflects what Gallerito called her eccentric personality.

More than 150 homeless people who have set up camp along the river trail in Fountain Valley were dreading Friday, knowing Orange County sheriff’s deputies and county officials would arrive to tell them to leave. Gallerito was determined to make the best of it.

“Just because it’s an ugly day doesn’t mean I have to be ugly,” she said.

Bridget Powers packs up her tent and belongings into a U-Haul truck. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Nancy Gardner, who has been homeless for eight years, packs up her mattress onto a wagon along with her belongings. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Left, Bridget Powers packs up her tent and belongings into a U-Haul truck. Right, Nancy Gardner, who has been homeless for eight years, packs up her mattress onto a wagon along with her belongings. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

More than a dozen county officials, sheriff’s deputies and police from Anaheim and Santa Ana arrived at the trail at about 9 a.m. to begin telling people to move out.

The county plans to permanently close the west side of the flood control channel between 17th Street in Santa Ana and Adams Avenue in Huntington Beach as it prepares to start maintenance of flood control district property along the trail, officials have said. That area includes the Fountain Valley encampment.

Ivan Reyes, who has been living in the Santa Ana River trail homeless encampment for the past two months, carries an American flag along with his belongings.
Ivan Reyes, who has been living in the Santa Ana River trail homeless encampment for the past two months, carries an American flag along with his belongings. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

The camp was in a flurry just as the sun began to peek over the horizon Friday. Homeless people who have been living for months in tents overlooking the concrete river basin scrambled to load trucks, cars and trailers with their belongings.

Trash, shoes, bicycle parts and a mishmash of forgotten items littered the trail.

Some people had been packing and moving belongings all night.

“It’s been a night from hell,” Kristin Bennett, who has been homeless for two years, said as she surveyed her surroundings. “But I think I’ll be all right. I’ve done this so many times. All of this is just stuff.”

Police and county workers visited each tent, lightly shaking the material and announcing their presence.

Orange County Sheriff's, Anaheim, Orange, Fountain Valley Police officers walk through a large homeless encampment to enforce an eviction notice that began Friday between Warner Ave. and Edinger Ave. along the Santa Ana River trail. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Orange County Sheriff's, Anaheim, Orange, Fountain Valley Police officers walk through a large homeless encampment to enforce an eviction notice that began Friday between Warner Ave. and Edinger Ave. along the Santa Ana River trail. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Syringes remain behind the banks of the Santa Ana River after a large homeless encampment was evicted. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Orange County Sheriff's, Anaheim, Orange, Fountain Valley Police officers walk through a large homeless encampment to enforce an eviction notice that began Friday between Warner Ave. and Edinger Ave. along the Santa Ana River trail. Bottom right, Syringes remain behind the banks of the Santa Ana River after a large homeless encampment was evicted. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Linda O'Reilly, who has been homeless for five years, moves her belongings out of the large encampment along the Santa Ana River trail.

Lisa Weber, 57, who has been homeless on-and-off for 30 years, packs all of her belongings into her car across the street from her encampment along the Santa Ana River trail.

Homeless veteran Larry Ford is reflected in a mirror hanging inside his camp. Homeless people are packing their belongings in preparation for Friday’s eviction.

For hundreds of homeless who have created a makeshift community of tents and encampments along the Santa Ana River’s concrete edges between Fountain Valley and Anaheim, it’s time to either pack up or face arrest.

Orange County sheriff’s deputies patrol along the Santa Ana River homeless encampment.

Larry Ford, 53, left and Lisa Weber, 57, join a large group of homeless campers who face eviction on Friday from their encampment between Warner Ave. and Edinger Ave. along the Santa Ana River trail.

Larry Ford washes off in a makeshift shower at a homeless camp.

Homeless people started trickling into the area, near Harbor Boulevard and Edinger Avenue, about a year ago.

A homeless man packs up his tents and leaves the Santa Ana River camp before the eviction begins.

An Orange County sheriff’s cruiser drives along the Santa Ana River, past homeless encampments.

Lary Ford, 53, left and Lisa Weber, 57, join a large group of homeless campers who face eviction on Friday from their encampment between Warner Ave. and Edinger Ave. along the Santa Ana River trail.

“Just because it’s an ugly day doesn’t mean I have to be ugly,” said Morgan “Mermaid” Gallerito, who decided to wear a dress while being evicted from homeless encampment by O.C. Sheriff's and police officers along the west side of the Santa Ana River trail. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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