The Lost Tribe: Weathering the Storm in the San Fernando Valley (VIDEO)

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Wed, Apr 6, 2011 at 7:26 AM

click to enlarge Dennis Kimble has been sleeping on the street for eight years. - SAM SLOVICK
  • Sam Slovick
  • Dennis Kimble has been sleeping on the street for eight years.

Molly doesn't seem to mind the torrential downpour across the street from Sun Valley Park on a Sunday morning. The svelte young brunette makes her way down a sidewalk, through a maze of drenched cushions and blankets. She finds some scraps of soggy food and wags her tail. She's part of a small tribe of street sleepers who haunt the blocks around the park.

Huddled under tarps, chilled to the bone in the pounding rain, they are invisible to the steady stream of traffic as local residents run their weekend errands, grocery shopping at the Mercado or buying shoes for the kids at Payless.

Far from the glitz of the Skid Row press darlings in the human zoo of downtown Los Angeles, this lost tribe has no news crews coming to tell the story of hapless people drawn together by a need for survival and community. It's not a place of hope, but there is love.

Dennis Kimble looks ancient for his 48 years. He has a long gray beard and hair that seem to have been untended since forever. His face is a Rorschach of pain. He looks like he could be on a porch in the Ozarks with a banjo.

A former civil service worker and owner of a small automotive business, Kimble has been sleeping on the street for eight years. The patriarch of this tribe, he's ravaged, worn down by attrition; the elements have taken their toll. He says he fell off a ladder at work and sustained hip and back injuries 10 years ago. Unable to work, he assumed his position on the pavement.

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