As he lights up a Marlboro and takes a slow drag before exhaling, Brian Sotelo is a man who finally has reached his breaking point.
Anger drips from every word as he peers at the tops of white tents rising over the trees in the distance. The depth of despair in his eyes is difficult to fathom.
...He stood and talked in the cool morning air a short distance up the road after security at the front gate threatened to have his car removed outside the entrance to what Sotelo's identification tag calls "Camp Freedom," even though it more closely resembles a prison camp.
The Seaside Heights, N.J., resident was at a Toms River, N.J., arena with his wife and three kids a half hour before the shelter opened as superstorm Sandy approached last week. On Wednesday, Sotelo was part of a contingent shifted to this makeshift tent city in a parking lot across the road from a racetrack about 30 miles north...
"Sitting there last night you could see your breath," Sotelo said. Outside temperatures hovered below freezing, in the upper 20s and low 30s. "At (the arena) the Red Cross made an announcement that they were sending us to permanent structures up here that had just been redone, that had washing machines and hot showers and steady electric, and they sent us to tent city. We got (expletive).
...No media is allowed inside the fenced complex, which houses operations for Jersey Central Power & Light's army of workers from out of the area...
..Sotelo scrolls through the photos he took inside the facility as his wife, Renee, huddles for warmth inside a late-model Toyota Corolla stuffed with possessions, having to drive out through the snow and slush to tell their story. Temperatures Thursday finally made it into the upper 40s. Images on the small screen include lines of outdoor portable toilets, of snow and ice breaching the bottom of the tent and an elderly woman sitting up, huddled in blankets.
All the while, a black car with tinted windows crests the hill and cruises by, as if to check on the proceedings.
Somehow, "Camp Freedom" seems an apt name for this sort of facility. And I can't help but think of this entrance to another camp.
This sign reads "Arbeit Macht Frei" or "Work makes one free".
Hat tip: WyBlog and BadBlue News.