On Sunday afternoon Tawanna DuBose, 22, sat in her walk-up garden apartment in Southeast Washington and calculated how she and her two daughters would make it through the coming week.
She had only $4, but she thought she could make it. She would eat sparingly. The girls would get free breakfast and lunch at their nursery school. And, on Wednesday, she would take a bus across town to the Van Ness campus of the University of the District of Columbia to pick up the $104 federal assistance check she gets while studying for a high school diploma. That would carry the family until the $257 welfare assistance check arrived early next month.
Then, late Sunday, the heavy snow fell and DuBose's careful plans went awry.
The nursery school shut down and there was no breakfast, no lunch for Tasha, 4, and Kisha, 3.
"By Monday night, the kids didn't have any milk or bread," DuBose said. "I took two of the dollars I had and walked up to the corner store to see what I could buy. All I could get was a quart of milk, six eggs and a package of greens."
By Tuesday all the food had been eaten.
Yesterday morning the buses stopped running, and the $2 she had left was not enough for a taxicab to go to the university to pick up her check. And when she called the school, no one answered.
Yesterday she called the D.C. Department of Human Resources and social worker John Watkins brought out a bag of groceries -- soup, beans and meats, cake mix and a box of cornbread mix.
Even in the best of times, life for many innercity families is a struggle. But for many of them the heavy snowfall has caused crises.
"Most people need food. But others need to have medical prescriptions filled or they need to have their heat turned on," said DHR social worker Preston Moore, who, with Watkins, used a four-wheel-drive Jeep yesterday to respond to emergency calls.
Mary James, 49, who lives in an old tenement on Carrollsburg Place SW, said her family ran out of food Monday. She said she had been borrowing food from neighbors to sustain her family -- a mentally retarded son and a 16-year-old daughter with a 2-month-old infant -- until social workers arrived yesterday with a bag of food.
"One of our friends sent us a can of tuna fish and a few crackers last night just so we would have something to eat," James said
"Usually we can make it through the month on my public assistance check," James said. "But with the new baby, I've had to spend a lot of money buying Pampers and milk.The other day I bought a used baby bed for $35 and had to pay another $5.50 for a taxi to bring it home."
James said the groceries she received yesterday will last until Friday. After that, she said she is not sure how her family will survive until her public assistance allotment of $347 arrives on March 1.
Mary Williams, who lives on Benning Road SE said she and her two sons had been borrowing food from neighbors before an emergency bag of groceries arrived yesterday.
"We haven't been able to get to the store to buy anything," said Williams, 35. "I don't trust myself on the ice and the streets haven't been cleaned. Last year, I twisted my ankle when I tried to go out in the snow."
Williams said her family ran out of food Monday during the snow. "We've just been watching television and listening to records," Williams said, "but we couldn't forget that we were hungry."
John Francis Logan, 48, sat in a folding chair in a large room at the Pierce shelter for men. It was 8 a.m., time for Logan and nearly 200 other men who spent the night at the shelter to leave the building for the day.
"We're going out to try to find a job," said Logan, who stroked his three-day growth of black and gray beard. "But things are kind of tight. It's hard to find work long now, especially with the snow. But it's good to be able to come to a nice place like this."
Another man staying at the shelter, John Perrey, 28, of San Diego, said he came to Washington last weekend to check on his veteran's benefits at the Veterans Administration.
"The snowstorm caught me without a place to stay," he said. "I had read about the shelters for street people in the newspaper, so I checked in to this one to save some money and to keep warm."