PORTLAND, Ore. -- They estimate it peaked at 300-450 campers.
By Tuesday morning, police guessed, it was down to about 30. They were the ones who didn’t want to leave.
Officers with Portland police, Multnomah County and other agencies worked for hours, clearing the last few dozen homeless campers from a mile-long section of the Springwater Corridor, near Cartlandia on Southeast 82nd Ave.
“There's no simple solution,” said Sgt. Randy Teig, who estimated he’s cleared, “…maybe 2,000” homeless camps in Portland over the last four years.
“We're talking about a lot of people, and there's mental health issues. There's addiction issues,” he said.
A few minutes later, Teig and other officers found themselves face to face with those issues again, when advocates, who were helping them walk the trail, mentioned a woman was acting strangely.
She’d been camping just east of 82nd Avenue.
They believed she was high and suicidal. Within minutes an ambulance took her to the hospital, and officers continued on with their work.
Eventually inmate crews came in to clean up the dozens of tents, sleeping bags and other items that were left behind.
Diane Kneisly stood off to the side, crying.
“We won't be out here forever,” she said.
Kneisly had been camping just behind Cartlandia with her son for the last two months.
She’s had two spinal injuries. He’s had two brain injuries. She says they were afraid every night, especially after hearing about recent attacks along the path.
In one case, police said a homeless camper stole a neighbor’s dog, only to torture and kill it.
“It's awful. I don't blame them for wanting to clean it up,” she said. “The ones that are out here doing the bad things ruined it for everyone.”
People living nearby and working at Cartlandia said that was true.
Owners of the popular food truck pod didn’t want to go on camera, but said they couldn’t see the sweep as anything but “a hollow victory.”
They believe, without any shelter space to house them, campers will come back.
They and others watched nervously as dozens moved less than a mile down the trail and set up shop again, just east of Lambert Street.
That’s where the sweep ended.
One woman, who lives nearby, was afraid to give us her name. She said she’s also afraid for the sun to go down.
“It's going to be wild, rowdy, these guys are going to be unhappy. They're going to be throwing stuff,” she said, motioning to the campers. “Tonight's going to be like hell-night.”