Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Homeless woman, pet dog find a way to weather windstorm

December 2, 2011 |  4:03 pm

Click here to see more photos.Without the Internet or television, and not having read a newspaper or listened to the radio, Joanne had no idea what she was heading toward Wednesday night as she drove into town with her life's belongings  stuffed in a car.

“I didn’t get the weather reports until the weather came," the homeless woman said.

Joanne is 60 and says she’s been homeless for 15 years, nine of those in Pasadena. And while she's experienced the elements in full force, never has she felt winds as furious as those that swept across the San Gabriel Valley on Wednesday night.

PHOTOS: Santa Ana winds | Submit your photos

She was driving around looking for help with her car’s water pump when the windstorm took shape. She said she pulled into a Burger King on Colorado Boulevard to take refuge.

“It was rocking like a rowboat,” said Joanne, who declined to give her last name or have her face photographed. “I really thought the car was going to tip over.”

Joanne is a common sight around Pasadena in her black Nissan 200x, with 130,000 miles on the odometer. She shares the car with Sheba, a dog she identifies as a  black Labrador.

The car is piled high with tarps, plastic bags, cans -- all secured with a maze of rope, chains, wire, bungee cord and telephone cables. On the dashboard is the Bible and a first aid kit. Taped to a passenger window is Psalm 23.

“It’s tied on 150 different ways," she said of the load. "It takes three hours to untie.” 

Inside are clothes, magazines, books, food, cooking ware. “I have everything a home has -– even a portably potty, dog food and a dog,” she said. She even has a few plastic Christmas trees, found in a Rite-Aid dumpster, and a bag of Christmas ornaments.

Before the storm, people would regularly admonish her to “get that stuff off there; its dangerous,” she said.

But Joanne said the storm proved that she knew what she was doing all along.

“I didn’t lose one thing; not a thing,” she said with pride. “A JPL guy told me one time, 'We should hire you. It’s aerodynamically sound.’”

Cellphones called top danger on California roads

Santa Ana winds: Gusts top 150 mph at Mammoth Mountain

Occupy L.A., wind damage may add to $72-million city budget shortfall

 -- Sam Quinones


Photo: Joanne secures her wordly possesions to her Nissan, as Sheba looks on. Credit: Sam Quinones.