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Homeless advocates say last weekend’s deaths were avoidable

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    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — Along Sevenmile Creek in South Nashville is what’s left of a homeless encampment and all the belongings its residents had. Two people lost their lives there Saturday night and advocates say it could have been prevented.

“It did a number,” Steven Young, Founder of Home Street Home, said Wednesday as he surveyed the damaged. He remembers the feeling of waiting for weather without shelter. “Frightening, worried, concerned. Where was I going to go? What was I going to do?”

Formerly homeless himself, he’s now dedicated to making sure Nashville’s population have what they need to survive. “As I walked through back there and saw the destruction, and I saw where I knew Fred and Melissa had been residing. It ripped me at my core.”

Saturday night’s flood claimed two lives: Fred Richards, 64, and Melissa Conquest, 46. “It’s senseless. Those were human beings. They were good people.” Young said Richards was funny and generous, and Conquest had an unforgettable smile. Those who survived, were left with nothing. “They escaped this literally with the clothes on their back,” Young said.

The donations to Young’s non-profit are pouring in, but he said the need could have been avoided if the city had an emergency flood plan for the homeless community. “If everyone would come together – the city, other organizations – and be preemptive and proactive, and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to come out here with totes and boxes. and we’re going to help you pack your things up, and we’re going to take you somewhere safe until all this blows over’ this can be avoided.”

He urged Nashvillians to walk a mile in some else’s shoes. “Start looking at them differently please, please,” Young said. “Set aside the apathy and find a little empathy.”

Home Street Home is currently in need of tents, sleeping bags, blankets, clothes, shoes, and socks. You can Venmo a donation to them at @homestreethome or find more information about how you can help on this website:

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