The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Tina Fisher Cunningham
Fisher Forde Media 

Helping Tehachapi in social isolation

 

March 28, 2020

Tina Fisher Cunningham

Leif and Justina Engen's Village Community ceramic and art shop is headquarters for the Tehachapi Humanitarian Relief Group that is delivering food, hygiene, mom care and pet care packages to home-bound people with the help of dozens of volunteers. They also have kid kits of art and STEM projects for sale. From left, Justina and Leif, volunteers Alyssa Lundberg and her mom Laura Lundberg.

The situation in Tehachapi regarding the COVID-19 emergency can be summed up in this exchange March 21 at the Dollar Tree:

Customer to the clerk at checkout:

"When do you expect...?"

Clerk (before the question is completed):

"Tuesday."

Interpretation: The supplies are coming, and they are arriving every day. Don't panic.

While grocery shoppers are alarmed at the strange sight of empty shelves in America, the supply lines are open while truckers, stockers and clerks are working hard, and there is plenty of food in Tehachapi.

Most restaurants are open for take-out but no inside dining. Customers may come in to order but can't sit down to eat. "Carhops" bring the orders to customers waiting at the curb or in the parking lot.

The deli counters at the supermarkets have fried chicken, mac and cheese and the usual fare. Fast food restaurants are open and serving customers through drive-thrus only.

Some establishments have set up cones and chairs with numbers to show customers where to stand for safe social distances, and the tables are off-limits.

Several restaurants with abundant space for dining and lots of room for social distancing are seeing few customers.

Customers need to call restaurants to find out if they are open, how they are serving and what their new hours are. Most restaurants have truncated their hours.

See page 24 to find how some local businesses are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the pipeline

Shipments for the grocery store chains allot their supplies so every store gets something.

Produce is available in abundance, although it appears that there has been a rush on potatoes. As people buy more than they usually would, eggs were hard to find on March 21, but not impossible. Walmart received a delivery of eggs in the morning. They were soon gone. The Walmart meat delivery the same morning was almost depleted within several hours, but there was still fresh ground beef available to buy in the afternoon. The Walmart shipment of toilet paper and paper towels sold out quickly.

California egg farmers produce five billion eggs a year, and they are finding their way to Tehachapi stores. In contrast to the chronically empty shelves in the old Soviet Union, today's Cuba, Venezuela or North Korea, empty shelves are not this country's way of life. Shelves in Tehachapi will be replenished and will continue to be replenished because the growers and the supply lines are robust. By March 25, SaveMart had supplies of meat and eggs, but the toilet paper and paper towels were still scarce. Locally produced eggs are available on a limited basis.

The Port of Los Angeles reports that the COVID-19 virus pandemic is not keeping cargo ships from delivering supplies. Some stories online have created fear that business at the harbors has diminished.

"We are open and working," Port of Los Angeles Director of Communications Theresa Adams Lopez told The Loop on March 24. "Things are going to and from as usual. We are open for business. They [ships] are coming from all over the world ... The volume was down a bit because of the Chinese New Year but it's coming back up."

As declared in the governor's guidance, internet contact is vital in keeping home-bound parents, students and off-site employees connected to families, schools and employers. Be sure to call your favorite "tech" to see if they're working, most are still available.

Public contact

Grocery store clerks and U.S. Post Office employees are in constant contact with the public, and most have chosen to forego masks. The Post Office has given employees permission to wear masks. Grocery store clerks, who face the public all day, are receiving bonus "hazard pay."

One clerk at the post office that serves travelers said she was not overly worried about the COVID-19 virus.

Dog food is in big demand.

"People are stocking up, buying six to eight bags at a time. Most of the popular ones are gone," said Madison Pino, a clerk at Hemme Hay and Feed on South Street. "It's been a zoo, just insane."

Horses won't go hungry.

"There won't be a shortage [of hay]," Bob Gardner at Hemme Hay said.

While some grocery store pet sections are somewhat bare, shelves at both Canine Creek Pet Wash & Boutique and Tehachapi Pet Lodge & Outfitters are fully stocked. Canine Creek is offering free delivery, as well as curbside service to guests.

Homeowners stuck indoors may find this lockdown is a gift of time to complete unfinished projects. Pioneer True Value [(661) 822-6806] on South Street and The Home Depot [(661) 823-5434] are considered essential businesses and are still open.

Uncertainty brought on by the specter of the pandemic has triggered an increase in gun sales and ammunition as well.

Neighbors helping neighbors

Recognizing that isolated elders and home-bound parents needed help during this emergency, a home-school community centered at The Village Tehachapi ceramic and art shop [(661) 771-7202] organized a Facebook group called Tehachapi Humanitarian Relief Group. The group has marshalled a corps of volunteers to collect and deliver food and items like diapers. The idea arose when Cassie Wilson and Nicole Gallella, and Leif and Justina Engen offered their shop space at 20436 Brian Way, Suite G, for deployment. There are lead volunteers for Golden Hills, Bear Valley Springs, Stallion Springs, Alpine Forest, the city of Tehachapi, Sand Canyon and Keene. They are taking donations seven days a week at several locations.

The relief group prepares and delivers four types of kits with items that are donated (when available):

Food – enough for one or two meals and staples. Hygiene – toiletries, toilet paper, cleaning items. Mom care package – diapers, wipes, formula, baby food. Pet care (Canine Creek is the major donor).

The package donations are nothing new – the group prepares Meals on Wheels (for elderly and disabled home-bound residents) and senior care packages that include cookies, coffee, toiletries and toilet paper.

The group is careful to guard against virus exposure.

"We quarantine all items and take safety precautions," Justina Engen said.

The Village also has home activity kits for children, available for purchase from $10 to $25. Their kit choices include a clay kit (one pound of clay) that can be fired and glazed at The Village, guided painting (canvas and acrylic paint), "Slime" (make your own "slime") and a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) kit with online STEM curriculum, and features problems like building a suspension bridge across two tables.

The Salvation Army Tehachapi Community Center is a primary source of assistance in the community. It provides food distribution several days a week and helps during emergencies in other ways.

Tina Fisher Cunningham

A sign at Hemme Hay and Feed is similar to signs at retail and service establishments in the Tehachapi area, around the country and around the world.

The Salvation Army provided the following statement: "Our Salvation Army office is still operating as normal. We are taking multiple safety precautions during this time due to COVID-19. But we are still working diligently to meet the needs of those in need. For the elderly, we are currently creating a team that will deliver food to them when they are in need of it. If you or someone you know are not doing well and would like to order a meal, call the Salvation Army office at (661) 823-9508."

– Julianna Crisalli contributed to this article

Disclaimer: The response and effects of COVID-19 change on a daily basis, so some information in this article may be outdated by the time you read it. Be sure to call businesses for their most recent hours and procedures. The Loop is protecting its staff by keeping the office closed to the public. We are checking emails, voicemail and keeping our Facebook and website up to date on local news. Stay safe and be cautious friends, we will get through this.

 
 

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