Day One of the cleanup project at the Deschutes Parkway homeless encampment started at 9 am today.
Approximately eight workers from Advance Environmental, a private firm contracted by the City of Olympia to do the work, arrived and donned hazmat clothing before starting to work. They used rakes and shovels to pile the debris onto discarded tents used as staging areas. From there, a small excavator was used to scoop the debris into its bucket swing around and drop it into a waiting trailer.
Prior to this morning, the city's homeless response coordinator, Teal Russell, arranged permission from "several" landowners for the contractor to do work on their properties, she said. Previous reporting in The JOLT indicated that the encampment is spread among 10 private properties.
Russell used pink plastic ribbon to identify tents and surrounding areas that were not to be touched by the cleaning crews.
The work is expected to last several days, according to Russell.
The debris included discarded tents, sleeping bags, clothing, toys, broken items and a variety of what most would call garbage -- stuffing that appeared to be of the kind used in sleeping bags, food packaging, car parts and other things.
A few residents were standing near the street or in the wooded area on the west edge of the camp. None wanted to be interviewed for this story. One woman was visibly upset, screamed, threw her coffee cup onto the ground and ran toward a small group of residents.
Two video crews were present this morning. One was a private documentary videographer, the other was a camera operator from Seattle's KOMO TV news.