Several days ago we broke the story about a South Carolina registrant –we’re calling him Jerry — who is ill and requires 8 hours of oxygen therapy at night and 4 nebulizer treatments, 20 minutes each, during the day. Recently, some oxygen during the day has been added.
Jerry and his wife (we’re calling her Susi) recently moved into a very modest house in a small town in South Carolina, a house that was approved by their county sheriff’s registration department on September 5 of this year.
On October 26 an officer of the same department notified him that the house was 138 feet too close to a daycare and, as someone had complained, he would have to move. He gave him 30 days.
This couple is financially strapped, living on disability, Moving here exhausted their meager funds. Thirty days offered no solution nor the money required to move again. Besides, the respiratory and other issues caused by Jerry’s illness, Marfan Syndrome, are exacerbating. Moving in the oxygen equipment by truck and getting it set up in the house was a major undertaking.
Jerry set up a tent in the woods and registered it with the sheriff’s department. It was approved even though it is still 7 feet short of the magic 1,000 feet line, and the officer told him that he will have to move it if there is another complaint. One neighbor, rather than complaining, offered him a larger tent.
Rain came; the tent had water inside. The county was, like much of South Carolina and other states in the south, under tornado watch the end of November. Jerry and his tent survived. Temperatures have dropped for several nights into the 30’s.
Jerry has two portable oxygen tanks that last an hour each. He is allowed to go home for supper each day and to fill the portable tanks. His weight, never enough for his six-foot-six frame, stands at 145, down from 154 at his last doctor’s visit. Two hours of oxygen on the portable tanks is far, far short of what he should be getting, but that requires his equipment and electricity, and his tent has neither.
Rain is scheduled to move back in by Sunday with temperature predictions for low 40’s and upper 30’s at night. Looking at expected weather for the rest of the winter, freezes, even snow, are expected periodically. Pet shelters warn us not to leave our dogs and cats out overnight in such weather. I guess no one has issued such a warning for human beings, especially one who was convicted of a sexual offense almost thirty years ago.
RSOL’s South Carolina Advocate has made several attempted interventions; a conversation with someone in the Sheriff’s office was not helpful, and the Sheriff is not available until Monday. A phone call to a local television station has thus far been equally unfruitful. He will continue his efforts and make appeals on humanitarian grounds.
I am in daily contact with Susi, and what she said today cut deeply into my heart: “As many families celebrate the Christmas season with excitement and joy, I can only pray that my husband survives the winter in a tent in the woods. It devastates me that we thought we had finally found peace and security and a somewhat normal life, only to have it blow up in our faces ‘because the neighbors complained.’ It is no comfort to know that if there had been no complaints, we could have stayed together as a family even though we weren’t quite a thousand feet from a day care.”
It should be no comfort to any of us.
I will be updating this blog and adding photographs when possible.
Update Saturday morning, 12/3: Our South Carolina RSOL Advocate has been told by someone in the sheriff’s dept. that the case cannot be discussed with him unless he has Power of Attorney. I have contacted the Chester News & Reporter asking them to investigate. I have also been given contact information for the Chester County Adult Protective Services and will explore that option.
picture of tent:
jerry’s new home:
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.