ABERDEEN, Wash. - A major cleanup is underway in Grays Harbor County as Aberdeen city workers break down dozens of structures and clear out the River Camp that more than 100 people once called home.
“Imagine if it was your house. You just think of it as a structure or ramshackle shack, but, I mean, she lived in there for years, so I think it’s sorta sad,” said Aaron Buchanan.
Buchanan lived in the River Camp, the city’s unregulated homeless camp along the Chehalis River, for six months with his brothers and aunt.
On Monday, excavators tore down makeshift structures and filled dump truck after dump truck with loads of trash they trekked to the dump.
"It's not a good thing. I don't enjoy doing this, but we have to because it's unsanitary and people can't live like this. It's not good,” said John Bowers, a city maintenance worker.
The 8-acre riverfront site has been a hot topic for years. The city bought it in July 2018.
Mayor Erik Larson said the site is dangerous. People have been hurt on the train tracks.
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At one point, more than 100 people lived along the riverfront. Earlier this month, the city told people to leave and opened up 42 tents at the new homeless camp behind City Hall.
"They just shoved it down to the river and pretended it wasn't there and now they're just shoving it downtown and putting up a fence and pretending it's not there,” said April Forbes, Aberdeen resident.
"I don't see the point of it,” said Buddy Boyer, Aberdeen resident.
Many people who lived along the river were reluctant to move. Some took their stuff and set up shop across the water.
Those who came downtown told KIRO 7 it's better than the River Camp.
"It's staying nice and quiet and not the riffraff like down at the river. There's rules and regulations that need to be followed and, if they don't follow, we'll get rid of them,” said Jeff Simmons, camp host.
Larson said the city will take legal action against people who don't move off the riverfront property by the end of the day Monday.
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