Nickelsville flooding followup: What the encampment needs now

(Photos taken this morning by WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand)
For a while this midday, it was raining again – just as they’re trying to pump out the floodwaters at the homeless encampment on the southeast edge of West Seattle that calls itself Nickelsville, as it has since it was founded at that site four years ago, the site to which it returned a year and a half ago. After publishing these photos by WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams during Monday’s deluge, we went back this morning to see what’s needed, since many are asking. The campers we talked with said about half the residents had gone to emergency shelters when their tents became uninhabitable in the floodwaters. But even tiny residents are poking around, like Coffee the cat:

You may have heard via our friends at KING 5 News that a pump donated this morning was making progress in clearing out the standing water – before the rain resumed. Here’s what they told WSB they need:

Gas for the existing pump

Another pump, as this pump was donated but has to go back tomorrow morning

Dry blankets and dry bedding

Labor needs are up in the air, as they need to get the standing water out before they can determine what needs to be done

With donated items or any other offers to help, just show up at their main gate, which is off the small parking lot on the southwest side of the triangle of land they are on, at West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way.

SIDE NOTE – NICKELSVILLE’S FUTURE: The water woes are bringing new light to the camp’s situation – a year and a half without either authorization or eviction on a government-owned site. We’re waiting for a reply from Mayor McGinn’s office regarding its stance on what’s happening there. We also checked this morning with Food Lifeline, the nonprofit which is pursuing a possible purchase of the site, as reported here in October. From spokesperson Amy Lee Derenthal: “We’re still in conversations with both the city and state and nothing has changed since we first shared we were interested in the property for our Hunger Relief Center.”

12:59 PM UPDATE: We had asked Mayor McGinn’s office earlier today for comment on the situation and just got the official reply via spokesperson Aaron Pickus: “Our Human Services Department is working with Public Health to help place families with children in shelter tonight. We have opened our severe weather shelter at Seattle Center and are providing bus tickets to residents who wish to access shelter. Our shelters at City Hall and Frye Hotel are also open. Our Public Utilities and Finance and Administrative Services department are also assisting, as appropriate.”

54 Replies to "Nickelsville flooding followup: What the encampment needs now"

  • Lura Ercolano November 20, 2012 (12:30 pm)

    Which corner of the West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way intersection? And how many feet from the intersection? I recently drove by to drop off a small donation, and I drove back and forth a few times without seeing where to pull in. (Mostly I kept my eyes on the road.)

  • MB November 20, 2012 (12:36 pm)

    The South/East corner. It’s not very visible from the intersection.

  • Westcoastdeb November 20, 2012 (12:41 pm)

    Coming down the Highland park way hill, turn right at the stop light at W Marginal Way. You will see a parking lot almost immediately on the left. That’s NV’s lot.


  • Westseattledood November 20, 2012 (2:21 pm)

    Pacific Rim Industrial Supply – shout out for pump donation and your humanity.

    Now, here is what is concerning me but nobody is being explicit about it.

    The high rainwater provided solution for 1) toxins in soil and 2) rat feces and urine. Everything in that site is potentially contaminated with God-knows-what. My shoes will be washed in hot water and disinfected when I get home.

    How can the campers, volunteers! and visitors mitigate public health concerns? Specifically.

    Public Health? What say you?!?!?

    So frustrating.

    Also, Teri-
    White Center business are preparing to take donations of the following CLOTHING for the DURATION of the winter: socks, gloves and hats. These get soaked most often. Teri, gave Tracy send you my contact info and I’ll hand over outreach to you. So far everybody is in. They just need contact for pick/ups.

  • TJ Smith November 20, 2012 (2:31 pm)

    also coming down the hill go past marginal and about 150 feet before the light in a homemade bridge, that is the main entrance with 24 hour security ready to help. thier is a flag at the post thier to on the berm. many poeple have nothing left dry to put on or wrap up in. the power is by generators so nothing to great to power up can bbe used. hot soups and coffees teas anything to warm friends up from the inside. i know alot of my friends thier have not even somewhere to go for a couple hours to dry so being taken to the laundrymat would be such a thankfull do it fairly the best thing to do is to go to a nightly meeting at 6pm and ask to put a sigh up list for the help.. set times you can be there.. tons of things to help with in many ways you can be a naibor.. and the wet blankets iether get to be saved, or will quickly mold and not ever be ok to use again and need to be hauled away..

  • CJ November 20, 2012 (3:58 pm)

    Seeing little Coffee makes me wonder: are the shelters allowing the pets to come inside?

  • christi s November 20, 2012 (4:24 pm)


    What to do with pets when you go in a shelter is a huge problem. Especially for people with domestic violence or who use an animal as a service animal. Not only do people feel safer, they *need* their animal.

  • Tj smith November 20, 2012 (4:26 pm)

    there are no indoor shelters that accept animals. unless it is a service animal. an. when it comes to children some shelters will let you have 1 but no more if you have 2 you
    have too many or too few.. and if you have more than for your just screwed

  • natinstl November 20, 2012 (4:37 pm)

    I really wish this city would adopt NY’s new animal policy as it relates to shelters. If they are leashed or in a kennel it should be okay to take them. Too many people avoid going in emergency situations because they don’t want to leave a cherised family member behind.

    Coffee is a cutie by the way.

  • Jasper November 20, 2012 (5:08 pm)

    How can the campers, volunteers! and visitors mitigate public health concerns?

    Perhaps by not setting up a semi-permanent encampment in a toxin-laden, rat-infested stormwater overflow catchbasin?

    Call me crazy.

  • My two cents ... November 20, 2012 (5:15 pm)

    @jasper — good point, part of a problem within another problem. Consideration and attention needs to be made with respect to overall public safety both within and outside the encampment.

  • puglover45 November 20, 2012 (5:51 pm)

    what they NEED?!? SO, just freeload on society, then when that gets too tough, they call on hard working tax-payers to bail them out with handouts?
    And to top it off, now they have a girl standing on the corner with a sign “Pregnant, homeless anything helps” come on people, doesn’t anyone see the problem here?

  • me November 20, 2012 (5:52 pm)

    Bunch of media down there tonight, including King5

  • Marginal(ly) Homeless November 20, 2012 (6:16 pm)

    When the going gets tough, move to emergency shelters.

  • JoB November 20, 2012 (6:20 pm)

    regardless of how you feel about whether they should be there or not..
    there are people camping at Nickelsville tonight who could use your help.
    They are wet and cold and hungry and although donations are coming in the door the situation there isn’t likely to get much better very soon.

    be thankful that tonight you have a safe warm place from which you can complain about those homesless people.

    they aren’t that fortunate.

  • Joel November 20, 2012 (6:44 pm)

    she’s pregnant with twins but in the 3 months she’s been standing at the corner she’s not getting any bigger.

    what about all the evicted tent city people living in the hillside? since when is it legal to just take up camp and call that home?

  • Trick November 20, 2012 (6:44 pm)

    You’d be surprised at the number of vets staying there until their benefits from the V.A. kick in.

    Maybe you should see the faces and know the story rather than your “from the hip keyboard” assumptions and cliche’s.

  • Marginal(ly) Homeless November 20, 2012 (7:08 pm)

    I hear the weather is a bit nicer in southern Arizona, southern California, and Hawaii…

    If push comes to shove, there is also Bum’s Canyon in Yakima. A bit cool this time of year but a whole lot dryer.

  • GenHillOne November 20, 2012 (7:27 pm)

    My thoughts went to the dirty water too. The containment ponds are doing what they were designed to do, without a camp in the middle. Where is the water being pumped to?

  • wsea November 20, 2012 (7:40 pm)

    Just came back from the camp. Gave them 2 gallons of gas and some jackets. They are very appreciative. If you are wondering what else they need, they asked for all winter cloths (hats, jackets, boots, etc.), blankets and gas. It only takes a little money/time to help those in the cold. It was a great learning experience for the kids to help others.

  • Lolaleah November 20, 2012 (8:03 pm)

    Are there any kids living there? Should we be collecting kids clothe as well?

  • Aaron November 20, 2012 (8:14 pm)

    The last time I was there, there were 9 or 10 kids.

    But, like puglover45 said, “SO, just freeload on society, then when that gets too tough, they call on hard working tax-payers to bail them out with handouts?”

    I hope puglover45 doesn’t ever find himself in this situation, he may implode with self hate.

  • justme November 20, 2012 (8:54 pm)

    I wish that no human being had to worry about basic survival this way.

  • miws November 20, 2012 (8:56 pm)

    I wonder how many folks whose homes and livelihood were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and are now having to rely on the help of the Government, and Good Samaritans, used to hold the same beliefs as those posting negative comment on the NV stories…



  • Steph November 20, 2012 (9:08 pm)

    I went to Goodwill and bought some blankets as I don’t have any to give and thought I could get more for the buck there. Goodwill also had some really great new warm socks for a few bucks.
    With what I have heard from someone that lived on the streets, those emergency shelters have a lot of people on drugs and one does not feel safe. If I were them, I would rather be down at that camp.
    Why not help instead of complaining? It feels better.

  • JoB November 20, 2012 (9:46 pm)

    “what about all the evicted tent city people living in the hillside? since when is it legal to just take up camp and call that home?”

    did you know that there wrre people living on that hill long before Nickelsville came back to West Seattle? Some of them have been there several years.

    As the homeless population increases the number of homeless campers in all of our woodlands is going to increase.

    they literally don’t have anywhere else to go

  • cher stefano November 20, 2012 (9:50 pm)

    Thank you for posting all this information. May God watch over all those in this terrible weather situation. We need to get off duffs and get these people and animals some help because there but for the grace of God go I and all the rest of us. Be thankful for what you have and do not be so quick to make judgement on those who are less fortunate than you in these hard times. They just want to be warm and safe like all of us do.

  • Jeff platt November 20, 2012 (10:11 pm)

    I live on the hill right above nicklesville
    The don’t live in the woods here in the greenbelt
    They come here to smoke crack and shoot H amongst other unmentionable things
    Oh and just cause they wear old camos doesn’t make them a vet
    I want them out
    The things I hear on the hill below my house are scary and they come here to do the stuff the camp won’t let them

  • datamuse November 20, 2012 (10:16 pm)

    What JoB said. I’ve lived in Highland Park and walked in those woods for 13 years and there have always been camps there.

  • Neighbor November 20, 2012 (10:54 pm)

    Tracy-this is some great community reporting. Thank you for bringing this to all of attention! Because of this blog my little neck of the woods was able to respond in very little ways but still your reporting has had an effect!

    I have the utmost respect for our Nickelsville neighbors.

  • CJ November 21, 2012 (12:44 am)

    I know generally speaking animals aren’t allowed in shelters (which I too think is ridiculous) but was hoping an exception might be made at least in this case of an emergency. At any rate, if someone is forgoing a shelter because they have a pet I can foster a cat so they can get the help they need. I will look into taking up a supply collection at work as well. I’m sorry I can’t offer more.

  • puglover45 November 21, 2012 (6:06 am)

    Yeah, maybe it’s just the conservative in me, but when I run into adversity, I knuckle down and take responsibility of my own problems, not sit around and expect someone else to.
    If there’s kids down there, they need to be in foster homes.
    West Seattle liberals should know more than anyone else that life is all about appearances, and it appears those people choose to be non-contributing members of society, but expect society to contribute to them.

  • Susan November 21, 2012 (6:46 am)

    Q: What (does) the encampment need now?
    A: Move on – you are not welcome anymore. Crime has gone up and property values are going down – get a job and move on.

  • miws November 21, 2012 (6:49 am)

    Psssssst! puglover! In my year and a half of homelessness, I’ve met several other homeless that identify themselves as conservatives.



  • Rach November 21, 2012 (7:18 am)

    I think able bodied people in Nicklesville should be required to work. There are many odd jobs that people are willing to pay for…hence the immigrants lined up at Home Depot. I personally know a homeless man who does odd jobs and lives out of his truck, he likes to be mobile. Many people who are homeless should be working, not working at not working.

  • miws November 21, 2012 (8:07 am)

    Something definitely needs to be done about the Welfare Queens……



  • Westcoastdeb November 21, 2012 (8:15 am)

    Whatever side of the political spectrum you live on, whatever privilege you have, these are HUMANS.
    I’m not sure many WANT to live the way they are forced to down at NV. Hard to get a job when you have no fresh/nice clothes, no address, no phone to take calls on for interviews.
    Once you hit bottom, it’s a hard climb back to the top. Housing is expensive- especially initially – renting costs a first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit – usually topping a total of $2000. Try coming up with that from SSI income or other benefits.
    Every time I have been down to NV they are thankful – not begging.
    You wouldn’t hesitate to help a dog living in such conditions. What about your fellow person?

    [I know, dogs can’t work, arent a ‘drain’, etc., right?]

    Happy Flappy Thanksgiving

  • JoB November 21, 2012 (8:20 am)

    some of the immigrants lined up at Home Depot live at Nickelsville
    some of the residents of Nickelsville walk up the White Center Hill before the buses run at 5 AM so they can be at labor ready early enough to get work that day… if there is any.

    for most poverty is not a lifestyle choice.


    hubby walks the dogs in a local park every morning. He sees evidence of drug use from the night before every morning.

    it is true that there are people who are using our public spaces at night to do illegal drugs… and it is entirely possible that some of those people live in Nickelsville….

    but some of them live legally in the house down the street from you

  • miws November 21, 2012 (8:50 am)

    Huge thanks to The Forsythe Studio in the Junction, that is taking donations for Nickelsville!



    • WSB November 21, 2012 (8:51 am)

      Just found out that Hotwire Online Coffeehouse (WSB’s original sponsor, now dating back five years!!!!) is too. Adding to the daily preview list, which already features the Forsythe drive.

  • miws November 21, 2012 (8:54 am)

    Ah yes! Hotwire RAWKS!



  • Furry Faces Foundation November 21, 2012 (9:58 am)

    Thanks to everyone that is helping our Nickelsville neighbors.
    Furry Faces Foundation and the NV Pet Coordinators have put a plan together for NV’s furry residents. The NV Pet Coordinators let residents know that Furry Faces has arranged for temporary housing for their pets. Cats will be housed at Kitty Harbor (thank you Delyn) and dogs will be boarded. So far we have one dog that we will be taking to boarding later today.

    CJ—thank you for offering to foster a cat. Please feel free to shoot us an email @ and we will let you know if a need arises.

    NV is in need of healthy dry cat food and litter*. If you would like to help with cat food and/or litter, donations can be dropped off at Hotwire Coffeehouse, 4410 California Ave SW. The brand we have been providing is the Costco Kirkland Adult Maintenance. It is the dark purple 25 lb bag of food for about $19.00. (Not the lavender or orange bags. That food is full of ‘fillers’). If you can’t make it to Costco, brands such as Felidade, Nutro, Natural Balance, are good, middle of the road food. (We don’t provide the cheap brands such Friskies, Atta Cat, etc., as they are full of fillers and some other less quality ingredients).

    *litter option: The 40lb bags of wood pellets are a great litter. A bag costs $4 – $6, so it’s inexpensive. And, being a wood by-product, it absorbs the odor very well. When living in a tent with a litter box, the odor absorptions is important.

    Thanks again to everyone.

  • miws November 21, 2012 (11:08 am)

    Thank you, F3, and Kitty Harbor/Delyn!



  • Sassy November 21, 2012 (11:50 am)

    Compassion is contagious.

  • sb in ws November 21, 2012 (12:34 pm)

    Could they use a covered litter box?

  • CJ November 21, 2012 (12:40 pm)

    FFF, Kitty Harbor, and NV Pet Coordinators-you are awesome!!

  • loser November 21, 2012 (12:54 pm)

    Is a person better doing drugs in a house they pay rent for better than the person who has to live outdoors and do it?

  • miws November 21, 2012 (1:17 pm)

    Could they use a covered litter box?


    sb, as a former Pet Co-Ordinator at NV, I can say with 99.99876257643% confidence, that yes, they could! :-)



  • Furry Faces Foundation November 21, 2012 (4:29 pm)

    Our pleasure and thank you for caring.

    SB…yes, litter boxes, especially covered ones are one of the hot items at Nickelsville. If it is not new, it just needs to be washed and disinfected because there are no ‘cleaning facilities’ at Nickelsville.

    If you are able to drop it off at Hotwire Coffeehouse, we will pick it up (with everything else) and deliver to NV.

  • Teri Ensley November 21, 2012 (4:32 pm)

    Westseattledood: Yeah White Center businesses!!!

    I’d be happy to be the go to person for pick ups & delivery.

    Feel free to email me at so I know who to contact.


  • Dori Henrickson November 22, 2012 (1:07 pm)

    We have been looking for a dog named Nahla. Has anyone seen this dog at the camp?

    She is a female husky mix….golden eyes….there is a $1000.00 reward for her safe return. If you know anything please speak up. I will personally come pick her up. Thxs.

  • Justwonder November 24, 2012 (7:36 am)

    Is this area a never ending battle? Was it not designed to collect rainwater and drainage?
    Looks to me like NV could really use pallet boards in the least. Get those tents up out of the water because much more rain can be expected in Seattle. Anyhow I will be collecting coats and blankets to contribute. Can NV use frying/pots & pans and such?

  • miws November 24, 2012 (2:43 pm)

    Can NV use frying/pots & pans and such?


    Justwonder, I would say most likely yes, but you may want to call the Camp at 206-450-5268, and ask for a Kitchen Co-Ordinator.



  • Truth Hurts November 27, 2012 (3:04 pm)

    It’s not their fault all they have to live on is hope and change.

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