BRITTANY LE STRANGE: This is [Brittany Le Strange], and today's date is May24th, 2013. It's about 10: 00 a.m., and I am interviewing Adam Bixby. Mr. Bixby, how old are you?
ADAM BIXBY: I'm thirty-five.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How long have you lived in this house?
ADAM BIXBY: Let's see, 2007, I guess, so about -- what is that, six years?
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Six years.
ADAM BIXBY: Six years.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: If you don't mind me asking, how much did it cost when youfirst bought the house?
ADAM BIXBY: We bought the house for 318,000.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: And how many rooms?
ADAM BIXBY: There are three bedrooms, then obviously we have a living room,dining room, and two bathrooms and a kitchen. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Why here?
ADAM BIXBY: I grew up in Monmouth County, in Ocean Township, so I wanted to stayin Monmouth County because I liked it a lot. And then I work in New York City, so I wanted something that was easy to get across to the city. So you have the ferry stop here. We looked up and down the Bay Shore looking for houses. We looked at probably fifty houses when we were buying.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: That's a lot.
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah. And I think the thing that we liked the most about this houseis that the neighborhood is a really big, wide street, so the kids could play. We have a nice huge backyard, like a nice little park at the end. So it was kind of like a nice little family atmosphere for my kids to play in.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Tell me about your family.
ADAM BIXBY: Let's see. I have a wife, Coleen, who's a little older than I am.She robbed the cradle when she got me, but she's not much older. She's 38. I have two girls. One is six. Her name is Chloe. She goes to Port Monmouth Elementary School. I have a little girl, Morgan, who's three. Well, actually she's going to turn four next week. She goes to the Little Chiefs Preschool over in Leonardo. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: And what do you do?
ADAM BIXBY: I'm a manager for a company called Gotham Digital Science. And whatwe do is computer security, like computer hacking. So companies like banks and stuff like that will hire us to try to hack into their websites and their networks. We break in and then we tell them how we got in so they can fix the hole so that the bad guys can't do it.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Sounds fun.
ADAM BIXBY: Yes, it is fun.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How long have you've been doing that?
ADAM BIXBY: I have been doing that since 2006, actually, the year I moved inhere. I went to grad school up in Connecticut for computer forensics, which is the computer side of CSI. And I got an internship working for Gotham Digital Science when I was still in grad school. That was in January of 2006. Then after my internship, I graduated and I immediately started working there.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: That's lucky.
ADAM BIXBY: Yes.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: About how much do you make a year, if you don't mind me asking?
ADAM BIXBY: My base salary is 130,000, and then I get bonuses on top of that.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Okay. What do you like about living in New Jersey?
ADAM BIXBY: I don't know. I just grew up here. It's who I am. I don't know.It's just I guess I like the people. They're not always like me, but -- I don't know. It's just -- it's who I am. I like the shore. Another reason I liked moving here is because I'm so close to the beach. I grew up surfing and all that kind of stuff and I was a beach bum.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Which shore do you prefer?
ADAM BIXBY: We go to Sandy Hook, mostly. But I grew up -- in Ocean Township,the closest beaches to us were Long Branch, but we did Belmar a lot. We had a house down in Seaside Park, like a little cottage, one of those ones right on the beach, so we did that. Probably my earliest memories of the beach was down in Seaside Park because we would be there every weekend. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What are your views on the Jersey Shore, the show?
ADAM BIXBY: I hate it. I think it's the biggest piece of trash. It just makesus Jersey folks looked so bad. The thing that I hate about it the most is that none of them are from New Jersey. They're all from Staten Island.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: There's the one from Hazlet.
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, but she's the most normal person on the show [laughter].
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Yeah.
ADAM BIXBY: Well, maybe she got a little worse as the show went on. But yeah,she's just from up the street, yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Yeah.
ADAM BIXBY: And I'm not a fan of her. I watch it as a train wreck, you knowwhat I mean? At first…
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Yeah, you can't look away.
ADAM BIXBY: You can't look away, exactly. I just don't like -- I get made funof so much at work because none of them, nobody is from Jersey.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Right.
ADAM BIXBY: They're all from New York. They're like, "Oh, fist pump, oh."
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: All right. Tell me about your neighborhood and thecommunity. How are you involved?
ADAM BIXBY: It's weird. I wasn't that much involved when I first moved herebecause there's just -- you know, young couple moving in and a little bit to ourselves, I guess, because there a lot of older folks that live here. A lot of young people too. Across the street there's little girls that my kids play with, then over there there's some girls.
We kind of just talk with them, the people that my kids could play with, but wedidn't really talk with a lot of the other neighbors, maybe just hi. But then pretty much after Sandy, now everybody knows everybody because we're all going to the same crap, so I've gotten to know a lot of people post-Sandy. Everybody is really nice in these neighborhoods.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How are schools around here?
ADAM BIXBY: So far they're great. Chloe, she likes school. She does well inschool, and all the teachers that I've met that she has and her principal, they're all great people. I've only heard good things about the other middle school and high school. I don't know too much about them other than the things I've heard.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Any crime in the area?
ADAM BIXBY: Not really. Knock on wood. Let's see. We did have somebody walkinto our house and take a -- what was it? It was a Christmas card. I guess they were looking for money in one of our Christmas cards, and they found it in the back of somebody's yard a couple of houses down. It was in the middle of broad daylight, so it was just a brazen somebody coming in and doing it. But I had nothing else. I never see the cops come down our street unless it's for somebody that got hurt or something like that. Yeah, I don't -- you don't really hear about too much crime in the neighborhood.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Is there a lot of community events?
ADAM BIXBY: There are, especially the school. There's a lot of community stuff.I like to take the kids to that. The unfortunate thing was post-Sandy the only community events are fundraisers and stuff like that for people to get money.
They fire department put stuff on and a lot of other community programs to helpraise money. Yeah. Then they used to have block parties here on the street, but they haven't done in a little while. Hopefully once everybody's moved back in, we'll have those block parties again.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What's the reputation of the community?
ADAM BIXBY: I think it's probably blue collar. It's probably -- nice people,blue collar, hardworking. You have the guys that work on the docks, like the clam-diggers, if you will. I guess that's the derogatory term, but that's what they call them. Then most everybody else is just blue collar, like working class plumbers and stuff like that. I'm not really in the profession that most everybody else in my neighborhood is in, but it doesn't bother me. I don't really care. I'm not snooty.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Would you say there's any nicknames for the community?
ADAM BIXBY: Let's see. Not really. They just kind of call us the Bay Shore.That's this whole -- I think all the way from Keyport all the way down to where Sandy Hook is just the Bay Shore. I don't know. Not that I could think of, yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: When did you first hear the storm was coming?
ADAM BIXBY: Let's see. I was at a conference in Austin, Texas for our computersecurity conference. My wife called me up and said, "Adam, there's a Frankenstorm coming," and I'm like, "What the hell is a Frankenstorm"? And she was just crying as she was watching the news. They said it was like a hurricane coming up the shore, then they were predicting a Nor'easter to kind of hit around the same time as it was going to be in our area, which was going to cause it to come inland and wreak havoc.
This was on I think the Thursday or Friday before it hit, so a couple of daysbefore it hit. I was still in Texas, so she was like, "Come home as soon as you can," because the year before was Irene.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Right.
ADAM BIXBY: It didn't -- we didn't get any water or anything like that. We hada little bit of water that came up onto our lawn. But that was it. But we lost power for a week. But she's a nice wife and she wants to make sure I'm safe and not stuck in Austin. As soon as the conference was done, I flew home. I think I got home around Saturday. After that, we just kind of prepared, if you will. We thought was going to be like Irene, where we weren't going to be getting water.
I did take some precautions to pick some stuff up off the floor and bring itupstairs, but definitely not enough. Yeah, but so yeah, I was in Austin a few days before that.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What was your response when she called you?
ADAM BIXBY: I was like, "Why are you calling me?" To me, it was like -- youknow how the weather forecasters are. They're usually doom and gloom, not that -- the world's going to end and it just ends up being a little rainshower. So I didn't think anything of it. I was like, "Yeah, Frankenstorm, whatever. That doesn't mean anything."
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Did you expect anything?
ADAM BIXBY: I expected maybe a tropical storm, heavy winds, maybe some waterdown the street. We've had some water - since I've been here, we've had water come up the street three times, obviously for Sandy, for Irene the year before. Then I think a couple of -- I think a few months before Irene hit last year, we had a Nor'easter of something. I don't remember, but I think it hit when there was high tides. So we had water that came up to -- also came about three feet into my property, like onto the grass.
And that was [it]. We had looked at the flood records for this house going backI think till 1970s -- because that was something on my mind. I'm like, "I don't want to have a house that's going to get flooded." I don't mind paying a little bit of flood insurance, but I don't want a history of flooding because that's just a nightmare.
There was zero insurance claims on this house since the 1970s. I guess there'sno records before that. We just assumed all right, this place doesn't flood. I'm paying flood insurance but we'll never get flooded. I was wrong.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How did you prepare besides lifting some things andbringing things upstairs?
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Let's see. What did we do? We went and we bought agenerator at Lowe's. Everybody was buying generators. We literally -- they had a truck out back behind the Lowe's, and people were just driving the cars, putting it in the back of the cars and going. We had generators. We got a couple of cans of gasoline. I put some of my electronics, like my Wii, my Wii Fit Board, something like my DVD player and stuff like that, I put it up on top of my couch thinking that if we did get any water, it'd be a little bit, so it couldn't reach out to the top of my couch. Yeah.
What else did we do? I made sure most of my computers were upstairs because --actually, I brought my work computer with me because if I lost that, I'd be screwed. I brought my -- some of my more important family computers are already upstairs, and I have a laptop, a home laptop that I put upstairs. Made sure all my photos, my family photos were upstairs. That's about it. I guess we didn't do as much that we probably could've. But then again, I didn't really -- you don't know. You don't know what you don't know.
My daughters or my kids' playroom is this room right over here. All their toyswere destroyed. Everything was destroyed. I probably should've done a better job of cleaning up that room a bit and maybe bringing some of it upstairs. But thankfully their stuffed animals that they love the most, that was all upstairs.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What would you say the availability of supplies was?
ADAM BIXBY: Not good. Even at the hint of snow or the hint of hurricanes,everybody goes and buys out every supply you can imagine, like batteries. It was difficult to find. We were lucky that we went and purchased the generator early, because I think we purchased it about -- I was in Austin when my wife went and purchased it. They didn't have them yet but they were getting a shipment in.
So the Saturday I came home, we went to Lowe's and they finally had them in.But everybody else was -- they were just out of luck. If you tried to get even three days before, they were all already sold out. So, yeah. Not good, not good, really.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How many stores did you go to?
ADAM BIXBY: We luckily just had to go to the one Lowe's. They said that theyhad a ton of them on order, and you're on the list to get one. We just put our money down, and as soon as they came in, they gave us a call. We went and picked it up.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Did you wait long in line?
ADAM BIXBY: No. I guess the way it worked is the people that had ordered aheadof time like us were the ones that were able to go behind the store, pick it right off the truck, and put it in our car. But there was a line out the door for people that didn't pre-purchase, because I guess there was a pre-purchase order and then there was some first come first served.
You know how big these Lowe's store are. It literally was from the back all theway down the aisles all the way out the door, so we're talking hundreds of people were in line waiting for them.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you believe there was adequate warning before the storm?
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, probably. We know -- what, I was -- it was a Thursday orFriday. I was still in Austin, and I knew about it. It didn't hit till the Monday or Tuesday, Monday night to Tuesday. So yeah, I think so. Better warning than what you get with these tornadoes and stuff like that, right?
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What did you think of the governor's warnings?
ADAM BIXBY: I guess they were good. I guess I wasn't really paying attention tothe governor, just like what was on TV. Let's see. There was definitely forced evacuation in our area. I'm not sure if that came down from the governor or if it came down from the town. We had left already. I wasn't going to stick it out. My neighbors tried to stick it out. In the end, they ended up the water was coming in their house and they had to run out of the house, and it was just a nightmare for them because their car got stuck. They were trying to go parallel to the water rather than inland, and their car got flooded and they had to get rescued. We were I think definitely more prepared than I think some of the other people, but that was just because I wasn't going to stay here during a hurricane. Yeah, during a hurricane.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: I guess you took the cars with you?
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, yeah. We have just one car. We drove to my brother's housewho lives in Ocean Township, which is I think about two and a half miles inland, so they didn't get any flooding or anything like that, so. We stayed over there.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: You said you were there. Take me through your day. Whatwere the first signs of the storm?
ADAM BIXBY: The day of the storm? Okay, let's see. We went to my brother'shouse the day before, the night before, knowing it was going to hit I think that night and into the morning. We hunkered down with them. I brought -- I tried to park my car away from the trees, knowing that -- we'd stayed there for Hurricane Irene the year before, and there were a lot of tree branches that fell down. I didn't want my car to get smashed.
We actually parked it on his front lawn, which was the furthest away from allthe trees that could possibly fall down because most of the trees in his neighborhood are near the roadways.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Okay.
ADAM BIXBY: So we wanted to make we were away from that. Then we just kind ofhung out. I have a niece and a nephew who are young. They're ten and eight. They're around my kids' age, so they played while I hung out with my brother and his wife. We just relaxed and chilled. When the storm hit, it actually didn't seem as bad as I thought it was going to be. I remember sleeping right through it, like, "Oh, this is nothing. This is -- hopefully this was just one of these overdone predictions that the news people or the weather people tend to make."
The next day, we went outside and we saw a lot more destruction that I thoughtthere was going to be. There were tons of trees that went down in my brother's neighborhood, branches all over the place, trees that fell in houses. I was like, "Oh man, wow. This is actually a lot worse than I thought it was going to be." I was really nervous about my house, seeing how much damage there was in my brother's neighborhood, and he's way further inland than I am.
So I hopped in the car with him, we took the drive from his house to my house,which was about half an hour away. It was just really eerie driving down the parkway because there was nobody out. None of the lights were working. We were like -- I felt I was post-apocalyptic driving through with no lights and you're having -- you're crossing major roadways and you're basically on your own. If anybody comes plowing through, you didn't have a light to make you stop. You just looked both ways and proceeded. It was just really eerie. It was just calm and just that post-storm eeriness.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Right.
ADAM BIXBY: So we finally made our way over here. You could see as you'reriding along the parkway a lot of trees down on the sides of the parkway driving. Through Holmdel, because we get off Exit 114 to get over here, again, the same. You could just see lots of trees down on the roadways. We were lucky none of the trees fell into the streets, so I was pretty much able to make my way all the way over here. It's probably actually easier getting here the day after the storm than it was months after that because -- or actually, maybe weeks after that because by that point they had blocked all these different roadways.
I was just able to make my way through this post-apocalyptic environment mucheasier than I did once the police got out. Then yeah, I came down the street up here, and I'm like, "Oh, it doesn't look so bad over here." I'm like, "I don't see any trees falling down," at least I couldn't in the front yard. Then I saw my neighbor on my -- I was like, "Oh, so how does it look?" She was like, "Oh, the first floor is destroyed," and then my heart just sunk. I was like, "Oh crap. So we got water."
Yeah, so I walk in -- I try to walk in. I know I bolted this front door. Iwent into the side door, which I had bolted as well, but I don't think I had anything in front of it. I could barely get the door open. I literally had to run and kick it open, and it opened up, and then suddenly I just saw crap everywhere. Everything I had that was not bolted down must have floated and just landed wherever it stopped.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Right.
ADAM BIXBY: My refrigerator was wide open with all the food all over the floor,pots and pans all over the place; food is all over the place, garbage can with garbage all over the place. Everything that was in this room just all over, everything. We had things with our shoes, shoes all over the place and tables. It was just a disaster. It smelled like the worse smell, like that saturated sea and -- yeah…
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Did you have a carpet?
ADAM BIXBY: We had carpet in -- not in this room. We had hardwood floorsstarting in that back room over there. We had carpet, and it was like squish, squish, squish, squish. And I had two couches in there, two big couches, and they were totally moved, so they were floating, I guess, and just dropped. It was terrible. I was just in shock.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Did the power go out at your brother's?
ADAM BIXBY: Yes, we lost power there. Luckily, I was smart enough to bring mygenerator with me to his house. Because I was like, "I'm not going to need it here because I might have to hunker down at his place for a little while." So we're like, "Let's just bring the generator over to his place." And so we'll at least have a place to use it. When I came back here, obviously I knew I was going to be able to live here for a while. I stayed at his place for about a week, and I think almost that entire week we were without power, so we were just living off the generator. Obviously all the long lines of gas and all that stuff we had to go through, which was -- that was a nightmare because I've never felt so hopeless in my whole life around trying to get places.
My gauge says I have five miles to go until I'm on empty. You're just like,"Ah," and the lines forever long. Then finally fill up and it's like the best feeling in the whole world [laughter].
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Around what time that night did power go out?
ADAM BIXBY: Let's see. I'm trying to remember. I think we had power most ofthe night. I don't think we lost power until we were sleeping. I don't know, probably sometime in the middle of the night. I don't know. I can't even really guess. Because we did -- we definitely had power before we went to bed. It wasn't until the next morning that we realized that all the power was out.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What did you do for dinner that night?
ADAM BIXBY: I think we just got pizza. Yeah. I think it was the easiest thing.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Delivered?
ADAM BIXBY: No. We went and picked it up.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Oh, I was going to say, "Wow."
ADAM BIXBY: No, we went and picked it up. We got pizza, yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How did you get information that first day? Who were youtalking to?
ADAM BIXBY: Let's see. We brought one of those hand-crank radios. I don't knowhow. I just brought it, I guess, knowing that if the electricity went out we wouldn't have any other means to get it. So I brought that hand-crank radio. I think we turned to New Jersey 101.5. They had a lot of information on there. I had my phone, which actually the cell towers weren't working very good, so that was kind of useless.
I think it was really just the New Jersey 101.5 on my little hand-crank radio,and I also -- to get contact, I wanted to make sure I called my insurance, my flood insurance right away. We brought a lot of our insurance information with us. I was able to use my cell to make a phone call, but I couldn't use it for data, for some reason. So I called my insurance and placed a claim immediately. Just for information as far as what was going on was really just the hand-crank radio. That was a -godsend, I'm telling you. Everyone should have one.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: When did you and your kids go to sleep that first night?
ADAM BIXBY: The night after? Or the night of?
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: The night of.
ADAM BIXBY: The night of. Let's see. I don't know. I know the kids -- see, mykids love playing with my niece and nephew, so they probably stayed up till ten or eleven o'clock that night even though we usually put them to bed way earlier than that. There's probably the whole anticipation too of a storm coming, so it probably wasn't until ten or eleven at night that everybody kind of fell asleep, maybe even -- probably even -- well, I probably didn't go to bed to till later, like midnight or even after that, just because my brain was up and kind of wired.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: When would you say the immediate storm ended?
ADAM BIXBY: That's a good question. It would have been when I was sleeping, I'mguessing, because we still -- even as we were even laying in bed, you could still hear like the wind blowing outside. I'm trying to think. It was very calm in the morning. I'm guessing somewhere at two, three o'clock in the morning, maybe, is when it kind of calmed down.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What was going through your head the next day when you woke up?
ADAM BIXBY: The first thing that went to my head is I hope there's no tree on mycar [laughter]. And then after that it was just like, "I hope my house is fine. I hope my house is fine. I hope my house is fine." Really -- you know that anxious feeling you get when you just want to see something or do something? That was my feeling. I needed to get over here to see how my house was. That was the only thing that was going through my head, really.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Did you go outside right away, or did you…
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, yeah, immediately. I went outside. I just wanted to see theaftermath. And yeah, I was a little shocked. I took a walk with my brother and my wife and his wife, and I think the kids might have come too, and we just kind of walked up and down his neighborhood. There were trees everywhere, massive trees that had fallen down in the middle of the road. I was like, "Oh, this is way worse than I thought it was going to be."
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How did you respond?
ADAM BIXBY: Just kind of, like, gawkers, where you just were taking pictures ofeverything. Yeah, I guess we weren't very helpful. I don't know. There wasn't really much for us to do. It's not like I can move a tree. But yeah, we kind of were just were gawkers. We just were looking around. And then eventually, the urge to get back here, I just couldn't handle it anymore, like I have to come to my house.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Who'd you contact the first morning?
ADAM BIXBY: Let's see. I was with my brother, so I didn't have to contact him.I called my mom and my dad, who actually live not that far from my brother, literally a mile away from my brother. I called them to find out if they were okay, and they said they were fine. They didn't have any flooding. I think I text messaged my -- I have a twin brother, who lives out in Princeton. He was fine. He didn't get any flooding at his house. Then I think I told my sister that -- she lives in San Diego, so I wanted to tell her that we were fine. But I hadn't seen the house yet, so I didn't give her any news about my house yet. Yeah. So it was pretty much just the immediate members of my family were contacted, and then my father-in-law from my wife's dad.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: So when you got home, what damages did you suffer?
ADAM BIXBY: We had three feet of water in the house. Pretty much everythingthat's three feet up high or three feet lower was totally destroyed. That's all of the appliances in my kitchen. Obviously the refrigerator, stove, the dishwasher, the cabinets were all destroyed. The pots and pans we've been kind of able to salvage just by bleaching them and cleaning them in a lot of stuff. Obviously, all the sheet rock and the insulation inside, everything in my dining room, like my kitchen tables, the chairs -- I had a low refrigerator for beer and wine and stuff like that. That was destroyed.
All of my shoes were destroyed, like literally the only shoes that I had werethe shoes that were on my feet. Everything else was destroyed. My entire bathroom downstairs was destroyed. All of my kids' toys were destroyed. I have pictures of it. It's just a mess in there, like toys all over the place.
Washer and dryer, heater, hot water heater, air conditioner, all destroyed. Mybig TV was destroyed, DVD player, Wii, all that kind of stuff. All the electronics were destroyed. My two couches were destroyed. Anything you can imagine that is normally on the first floor of a house was destroyed [laughter], yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What was -- could you describe the scene of the day, withthe mood, like the community and everyone?
ADAM BIXBY: I think it's just shock. Some -- people like me, I kind of wantedto autopilot. I was upset inside, but I wasn't showing it. I was just kind of like, "All right, well what do we need to do? How can I save any of this stuff?" It was just kind of like mad dash. I was getting inventory of everything. I started taking pictures of everything. I immediately started pictures of everything because I knew the insurance company would want to see it as is.
It was kind just like that I need to do something. I couldn't sit there andwallow in my misery, whereas some of the other neighbors--I won't mention names--were inconsolable [laughter]. Yeah. I guess it's all based on your personality. But everybody kind of came together, though, helping each other out, recommendations on, like, "Oh, so you have a good contractor. Okay. Here's his card." Everybody was just helping each other out, giving each other information. If one person heard something from the police about something, they would tell everybody else in the neighborhood about it.
We were just all sharing information. We all went to the same through crap.The whole -- definitely my neighborhood, everybody came together. It was really nice.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Okay. With the cell phone coverage being not so great, howdid you get in touch with people during the storm or afterwards?
ADAM BIXBY: It was tough. The weird thing is you think landlines don't usuallygo down in storms, my brother had a landline. His went down. It was really just when I could get cell phone coverage, I would update them. That's it. There's really no other way. Sometimes the day it would work and I would get my phone calls in or I would send an email out through my phone just to update people and tell them that I may not get cell service or email service for another few hours, so don't expect me to respond immediately.
So that was really it. It's not like the cell towers went down. They were justeither overloaded with people trying to make phone calls, or I guess maybe some of the towers went down. I really don't know. It was just very spotty, as you said.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What provider do you have?
ADAM BIXBY: AT&T. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Okay. Can you take me through that day of the home and thetriage and everything, food and heat and shower?
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, let's see. When I was here, I guess we -- nobody got hurt, soI don't have to triage anybody from that perspective. But what we did is we did start taking an inventory of everything. I got one of those little binders like you have with a sheet on it, and I literally just started writing down everything. Looking at it, "Is this destroyed? Yes," putting it down, taking a picture of it, and writing the description of it down. We did that for hours of, like everything down here. Because again, I knew the insurance company was going to want all that information.
We -- not that day but the next day, I was already in contact with my wife'suncle, who is an architect. He does a lot of building stuff. He knew that we had to immediately start taking out the sheet rock and the insulation because mold starts growing within forty-eight hours. As well as my brother-in-law, who is a general contractor. He said you don't want to wait for the insurance people to come out here. He's like, "Take pictures of everything and start tearing those walls up," because again, mold is way worse than anything else. That's what we did.
My whole family, like my brothers, my brothers, his whole family, my dad, mymom, we all kind of converged on the house with power tools.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: It's the fun part.
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, it's the fun part. I have videos of it, of us literally -- Ithink we measured about four feet up and then just power sawed and just tore everything out, started putting it all into garbage bags. I think we are still in that process by the time the insurance adjustor came out, which was I was lucky I called them early enough because I was one of the first people on his list. Because if I had waited, he would have been a week or two before he could even gotten out here.
We were still in that process. He was totally cool with us tearing everythingout. A lot of people unfortunately waited. They were just like, "I don't want to do anything until my…"
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Probably didn't know.
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, they didn't know. Then finally, I think Christie, GovernorChristie came on the radio and said don't wait for your insurance people to tear down your walls, because they don't -- the mold is going to be the worst thing here. That's what we did. We ripped up everything.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How did you go about getting your day-to-day necessities?
ADAM BIXBY: That was tough too. I was living for the first of the week and ahalf post-storm; I lived at my brother's house. Now we have -- how many people were we trying to feed at that point? My brother has two kids and his wife, so that's four, then us four. So it's eight people living in a house. Luckily, they had a relatively packed refrigerator. We lived off of their leftovers and stuff like that [laughter].
Then we would try to make ways to some of the stores that were running off ofgenerators near him. I think there was a Krauszer's, a convenience store. So we would just get whatever we could find there, even if it was the crappiest pastries. We would just eat pastries. Whatever we could find, we would eat, because we weren't picky at that point. Yeah, yeah. So I think just stuff in their refrigerator and anything we can get at the local store, that was it. I don't think I had a good meal after that storm for two weeks until after the storm because everything was just leftovers. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How long was the power outage?
ADAM BIXBY: The power outage at my brother's house was for about a week. Well,maybe not quite a week. Let's see. He got back -- probably about five days at my brother's house, who didn't get any flooding. Here, the power was out -- I don't even know when the power came back on because my power box unfortunately was down here.
It was fully under water. It was right on the ground. My whole electric boxwas flooded. I didn't have power here literally until I got an electrician out to replace the whole box and rewire everything. I didn't have power until three months afterwards. I don't really know when the electricity came back on, to be honest, because nobody was living here. Everybody -- I lived in a hotel for five months. So I couldn't tell you [laughter]. A long time.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: About when did the stores start reopening?
ADAM BIXBY: In my brother's neighborhood, probably around about a weekafterwards is when a lot of the stores started to reopening because the power came back on. There were some stores here and there that were operating off a generator, like I said. There was a grocery store that they had -- they must have had a couple of generators because part of the store was open. I think their freezer section was open. In this neighborhood, I couldn't tell you, because I didn't live here for -- I just came here to take pictures and collect things. We stayed in Atlantic Highlands, at the Bluebay Inn over there for about five months, living off the money that FEMA was helping us pay for.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How about gas shortages?
ADAM BIXBY: Horrible. It was horrible. I didn't live during the -- I wasalive. I was a baby when the ones happened, the '70s, so I don't remember that. But I can imagine it was probably as bad, if not worse. It was miles of waiting for gas. Luckily I filled up the day as I was driving over to my brother's house, so I had a full tank of gas for most of that week. But all the driving back and forth, eventually you run out of gas. And then having to run a generator a lot to keep my brother's refrigerator on, we used up gas. Yeah. It stunk, man.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What was the longest line you waited in?
ADAM BIXBY: Probably two hours long or something like that. I don't rememberhow many miles I went back. It was just one -- it was I think over the [quick checkers]? No. Which one was it? I think it might be Exxon or something like that or Senoco Up the street was the only one that was open in the area. So that one we had to wait in line. Then there was one over by my brother's house over in… what town was that? Not Monmouth Beach but Ocean Port.
That one I didn't have to wait in line as much because that was the second timeI waited. By that point, Governor Christie had already started doing the alternate license plate thing, where the license plates did one day and then even the other day. That significantly shortened the gas lines. So that, I think I only waited twenty minutes, which was like, "Oh, this is easy. I can do this all day long." Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How long before the mail service came back?
ADAM BIXBY: I think it wasn't that long after, just to be honest. Our mailboxwas packed with stuff when I came back. I couldn't tell you exactly the number of days, but easily within the week I was getting mail again. Yeah, probably within a couple of days I think that they were right on it, stuffing our mailbox.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Trash pickup?
ADAM BIXBY: Trash pickup was actually excellent in this neighborhood. For thefirst maybe month, they were almost -- I wouldn't say every day, but a couple of times a week they were coming down with our massive trucks and all the -- all the other stuff that we're pulling out of our house, the debris and garbage and like that, they were picking up. We had our entire front lawn filled with stuff that needed to get picked up. Within probably three days, it was already picked up and done. As far as the emergency trash pickup, it was excellent. I would say they did an amazing job as far as that goes. Regular trash pickup after that, like the two times a week, I'm guessing it was not that long after that. But then again, I wasn't living here, so I really couldn't tell you.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How did you clean up?
ADAM BIXBY: Like the house and all that stuff? It was just a nightmare.Literally power saws to the sheet rock and just wearing gloves and masks and tearing it out and shoving it into bags. Unfortunately, most of this side of the house, this front portion of the house, is old, so it was that old -- not the pink insulation…
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: The yellow with the black on the outside?
ADAM BIXBY: Yes, some of that. Exactly. Some of that. Some of it was theloose stuff that looks like old people white hair [laughter]. It was just this floppy -- like almost like sheep's wool, it looked like.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Was there any newspaper?
ADAM BIXBY: No, there was no newspaper [laughter]. Yeah, from 1945, right? No.Yes, it was the really old stuff. That was the worse because it was just so difficult to kind of get out. It was just in cracks and all that stuff. It was black, like you said. Yeah, it was kind of a nightmare getting all that stuff out. It was just -- I was thankful I had my family nearby because they helped out tremendously. As I'm going through taking inventory of everything, they're just knocking down walls and hammers and just tearing everything apart. Then after that, we didn't really do much cleanup other than taking -- ripping everything out, because I knew this whole place was going to have to get gutted anyway. Eventually, our contractor came in and literally stripped out everything.
We had -- for a while it was just beams. We had no floors. You can basicallystep in into our crawl space. There was no floors because that was all ripped up. To prevent potential mold issues in the beams downstairs, we hired some people to come in to heat the house up and to dry everything up because my contractor said he couldn't really start putting the sub floors in until everything was dry.
That was $5,000. That was -- let's see. It took about twenty-four hours. Theycame in and they put these big hoses into the windows and stuff like that and heated the house up to 160 degrees or something like that to kill any bacteria and just to dry the wood. I would say after that process was done, it just felt better in here. It wasn't sopping wet. It didn't smell as bad anymore. That drying, even though it was super expensive, it was totally worth it because it just -- it was bearable to come in here at that point.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Like that damp feeling?
ADAM BIXBY: That damp feeling, right. Yeah. Exactly. It was disgusting.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Who would you look to for your support for help with thepower companies, insurance companies, FEMA, and all that?
ADAM BIXBY: We definitely went to FEMA. Immediately we contacted FEMA. We wentin their website, disasterassistance.org, and applied for assistance. Within I think a day, we already had a case. They were basically saying that they could pay for a hotel. So that was something that we did. I think we called our insurance company, and they had gotten in touch with us almost immediately with an adjuster who set a time to come out I think maybe four days after the storm.
That actually worked out really well. I would say probably other than myimmediate family, FEMA was who I worked through the most. They were -- I got to say. They were great. As much as people bitched about them, they were great upfront. Later on, they got really annoying. They just kept denying us. I had to fight to stay in the hotel because I'm like, "I can't move into my house yet. I don't have anything. I don't have electricity. I don't have anything." They still didn't want to keep paying for us. They said, "Oh, you got to find a rental place."
I said, "I can't find a rental place. No places are doing short-term leases.I'm not going to do a full-year lease." So that was kind of nightmare. But out front they were great. They eventually paid for five months for us to stay and then eventually they said, "Sorry, we're not paying for it anymore."
So we moved backed here and we lived upstairs for the last month, I guess, lastmonth we've been living upstairs. We don't have any gas. We're just boiling water off of a little hot plate because we don't have hot water, so we don't have a stove either.
We're kind of like camping out in our own house. We boil water, dump it intothe tub, and then fill it up with a little bit of cold water and then sponge bath yourself [laughter]. Yes, that's our life for the last month, month and half.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: You got to do what you got to do.
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, exactly.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Did the town put any protocols or curfews into place?
ADAM BIXBY: They did. They had curfews for the first -- I think at least month,and they had state troopers from all over the country. I think I saw people from Alabama, state troopers from Mississippi, National Guard from New Jersey and other states all over this place. Again, it looked like post-apocalyptic times. It was a little bit eerie because there was people, like law enforcement and military from all over patrolling the neighborhoods. I don't remember exactly what the curfew was, because again, I wasn't really living here. I would only come over here during the day. But probably once it got dark, you were not allowed to be outside your house because they wanted to prevent looters and stuff like that.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How did you cope with everything?
ADAM BIXBY: Having a family is the only way I can really cope with it. If I wasby myself, it would have been a nightmare. But you just press on. I don't know. I had work, which was helpful, because it was a little bit of a distraction. My wife probably -- it was a little bit more stressful for my wife because she had to take care of two kids when I finally went back to work two weeks later. She had to find activities for them. I don't know. I don't know how. We just did. We just cope. It's like there's no point in me woe-is-me-ing myself. It is what it is.
I looked at this way: in the end, once all this mess is cleaned up and mycontractor gets in here and fixes everything -- my house is going to be elevated actually next week. We're going to sixteen feet from nine feet. We're going about seven feet up here to prevent any further storms.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Are your neighbors elevating as well?
ADAM BIXBY: Yes, they're starting to do the street. You can see they have bigbeams on their front lawn. Most everybody at some point will do it. We want to get it done immediately. I don't want another Sandy to come and everything that we've tried to do have to do it all over again.
So we're doing it immediately. I want to get it done. So it was things likethat. It was having things to do is really what kept me occupied and kind of kept my mind off of feeling sorry for myself. I had insurance claims to do. I had to get contractors in here to start helping me finish fixing up the house or cleaning the house up. Then getting in here to fix everything, it was like tasks, little tasks that I had to complete that didn't allow me to just sit down and cry. You know what I mean?
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Right. Would you say the response of the community waspositive or negative?
ADAM BIXBY: It was awesome. The community was so good. We've gotten -- we gotdonations from all over the community, all over middle town. I knew the mayor set up the Mammoth Counter Relief Fund, so we've been getting some donations from them. Everybody in this area was affected. So just coming together from that perspective and helping each other out was great. Then even the surrounding communities that weren't affected coming in and volunteering, and even places outside the community themselves. We had Mennonites and Amish people from Pennsylvania coming in and trying to help people out. We saw disaster relief funds from Oklahoma and Missouri and stuff like that coming and helping out.
We have -- down the street, they had a drive. I think it was one of the localchurches in the area had a drive at the end of the street, where they were giving out food and clothing and all that kind of stuff, then cleaning supplies. So we took advantage of that stuff because we needed stuff like cereal and milk and cleaning supplies to help -- some of the stuff that we could save, we wanted to bleach, so we got stuff like that. It was awesome. I would say the community came together and helped us out way more than I thought they would. It was awesome.
ADAM BIXBY: You said you got aid from FEMA. Did you get aid from anyplace else?
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: We got housing aid from FEMA. We have gotten somedonations from some of the different groups, like the Monmouth County Relief Fund. We got I think a $1,000 Home Depot card. My dad actually set up a disaster relief fund as well for people in our neighborhood and something like that. It was -- what did he call it? The Monmouth Ocean County Disaster Relief Fund. They had an event in New York City. One of my sister's friends in high school held the event, and they raised $10,000 or something like that, at this one event. We got some of that money. We were able to distribute that money to a lot of our neighbors as well.
Then donations from my family members and friends, stuff like that. Yeah, wedefinitely were able to get some money for the little necessities and stuff that insurance is not paying for. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How long was school out for the kids?
ADAM BIXBY: They were out for I think at least two weeks. Yeah, two weeks.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Then they came back up here once…?
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, my wife dropped them off at school from Atlantic Highlands.She'd drive in the morning, drop Chloe off, the oldest one. And then when Morgan had preschool, she dropped her off as well. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Did you contribute in any way that you could, or…?
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, I helped out some of my neighbors and stuff like that. When Iwasn't working on my house, I was going around and seeing if anybody else needed some help. Yeah, I tried to. I wanted to. I wanted to be involved. Because we have little old ladies and stuff like that that didn't have much help, so we'd go over there and see if they needed anything, all that stuff. Luckily, they had some… some of the other disaster assistance people coming in from the Amish communities that were helping them out. We tried. It's tough to help other people out when you need help yourself. So I tried, but…
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Understandable. How did you feel about the response oflike government and FEMA and insurance companies and everything like that?
ADAM BIXBY: I personally didn't have problems with insurance. My adjusterworked great with us. I took such careful inventory of everything and the prices of everything that -- I got the estimates from my contractors I got, as well as the content insurance. The stuff that we lost would be different -- the contents inside the house is one insurance claim, and then the house is another insurance claim. I supplied all that information to the insurance guy. It took a little bit longer than I was hoping. It took about a month and half to two months for him to kind of get back with what the claim numbers were going to be, which is understandable because he had a lot of other cases other than ours.
In the end, he was able to match us exactly with what we estimated all the costswere going to be--not out-of-pocket cost but to fix the floors, to redo the kitchen and the bathroom, and all that kind of stuff. I would say I had a good experience from that perspective. Now, my neighbors would complain that they didn't have as good an experience. But I'm not sure. That could be who their insurance company was. A lot of them were going to public adjusters.
Public adjusters were promising, "I'm going to get you $190,000," when inreality, they can only get them about $80,000. When they promise you the world and they can't deliver, it made for a very frustrating situation for a lot of them.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you believe New Jersey prepared adequately?
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, I think so. Other than -- their response was great. I thinkthe only problem that I have is that there were supposed to be some mitigation that was supposed to happen in Port Monmouth years ago. They got money I think back in 2000 to put up a wall, like a retaining wall so that we wouldn't flood as bad over here. They allocated the money, but it never happened. They even closed a gate--I forget exactly where the gate is--which made us flood worse than some of the other areas did.
That was definitely frustrating. But what are you going to do? I didn't livehere before all that stuff happened. I'm just hearing this stuff post-fact. We went to a meeting not that long ago. They told us that we've got the money now, so it's going to happen within the next few years. We're going to have that wall up, and it's going to be a go. Okay, that's awesome. But until I see the big trucks out there starting to build that wall, I'm going to be on their ass. They can't get it up.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What do you think the state could have done differently?
ADAM BIXBY: That's a good question. I don't know. To be honest, I thinkChristie did an awesome job. I don't have any complaints. I really don't have any complaints as far as that goes. As bad as the whole situation was, I think they did a good job. He did a great job of managing everything, setting people's expectations. Not overpromising, not saying we're going to get you the world and not delivering. I think he's done a good job. He's been on the federal government's butt to get us some funds. And when they didn't pass it right away, he was on their butt. Then finally they passed it. We haven't seen a lot of that grant money yet. I know it's coming.
That's kind of out of his control. That's run by the people that run thegrants, which is not him. I'd say it's been a positive -- I think the government's done really well. I'm usually very -- I don't trust the government often [laughter], and I think he's done a good job. I think Christie has done a good job.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you think anyone or anything is to blame, like globalwarming or anything like that? Or was it just a freak occurrence?
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, I'm a believer in global warming. Whether that was a 100percent cause of it, probably not. It probably was closer to a freak occurrence. But I don't think global warming is helping. You can just look at some of the other storms we've had, like the Oklahoma thing that happened last week or earlier this week. I don't know. I'm not smart enough in the Meteorological world to know if it's global warming or not, but I'm not a denier of global warming at all.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How do you feel about media coverage? Do you feel it wasaccurate, sensational? Did you feel it represented?
ADAM BIXBY: I thought it was pretty good. I didn't really -- again, I couldn'treally watch the news for first week or two because I didn't really -- other than my little hand-crank radio, I didn't have TV to watch. So I can't really tell you how good it was immediately. But I think post that, they were fair. They went around to a lot of local neighborhoods to kind of show the devastation. I can't really say they were sensationalist because it was bad. It was a bad situation. It's not like they were making something out of nothing. They were making something out of something. From that perspective, I think they did a good job. They were reporting on what happened. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What did you think about Obama and Christie's first responses?
ADAM BIXBY: I thought it was good. I know some people, Republicans don't likeObama. They don't like to see Christie holding hands with Obama and all that kind of stuff. But that didn't bother me. I like to see -- I'm a Christie supporter. I like the fact that he didn't let politics get in the way of helping us out. I'm not going to be so political about it, like I'm going to not see my neighborhood get fixed because he has got political squabbles with the president. That's unnecessary. I liked it. I liked the fact that they can come together, put their differences aside, and say, "Let's help these people." I think we should see more of that, to be honest.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: You say you're a Christie supporter. Were you a Christiesupporter before the storm?
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah. I voted for him, yeah, yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Okay. So did your opinion change of him at all, like…
ADAM BIXBY: I was even better. I liked him even more. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How did you feel about the response of the country?
ADAM BIXBY: Good. From the people that had reached out to us, we got donationsfrom random people. I think they might know my dad. I think my dad met them once at a conference. They donated to us. It was really bizarre. We got letters from just random kids around the country saying hey. I think we got some letters around Christmastime from letters from kids that went to the same situation with Katrina and stuff like that. So it was really nice. It was kind of nice to see that kind of stuff. Yeah, I think if there's one thing that America does is they kind of wrap themselves around disasters and really help people out. I think they did an awesome job. It was really, really touching.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: For the information that you know about Katrina, how do yousay the response is in comparison?
ADAM BIXBY: To me, Katrina was a little bit different of a situation becausethat was more of a rescuing operation than it was here. I think people were a little bit more knowledgeable post Katrina. They knew to get out of their house, so they didn't have to save as many people. Whereas Katrina was just people just staying and then too many people having to get rescued. I think that whole city itself was just corrupt and disgusting, like the mayor and the government there. I think Sandy was handled a thousand time better than Katrina was. Katrina was a disaster on multiple levels, from the storm itself all the way down to the government. It was just a disaster, whereas this, for what it was, it was well-handled, yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How would you compare the response of the storms thatyou've personally experienced?
ADAM BIXBY: This doesn't compare to anything. This was far worse. Anyhurricanes that I'd gone through or tropical storms, this was far worse. I never had anything like this ever happen to me.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How does this shape the environmental issues, do you believe?
ADAM BIXBY: Well, from a beach perspective, it's destroyed a lot of the dunesand how that affects the animals and all that stuff. I don't know. I don't know. That's a good question. I don't know. Maybe we won't know about how it's affected for -- there might be some time until we'll know. I know it's depleted some of the beaches. You can just go down the bay shore and the beaches. It looks a little bit smaller than they did.
I don't know what kind of environmental pollutants got put into the ocean afterthis. Maybe boats sank, got capsized, and leaked oil and stuff like that. I don't know. I'm hoping not as bad as some people think. We like to go to Sandy Hook, and they're warning us to make sure that you don't go on the base side because there could be debris floating around still from Sandy, so probably not good. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Does it make you think about changing [unintelligible - 00:55: 51] going to raise your home. Are you going to take any other precautions?
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, we're raising our house. So starting actually next Thursday,they're going to be lifting our house seven feet taller, then doing the masonry work around it. That's for two reasons. One, I want my house higher so it doesn't get flooded again. Two, I want my insurance premiums to go down [laughter], because otherwise if stay where I am and I don't mitigate like that, my insurance premiums are going to go through the roof.
I'm paying $2,000 a year now for insurance. It'll probably go up to $10,000easily because I've already collected on insurance. They're going to want to their money back, right? What's me having to spend some money out of pocket now to raise the house? We'll get some money from the insurance, the ICC coverage. That's an increased cost compliance. They give you up to $30,000 to mitigate after a storm like this. And we got approval for it because we had substantial damage.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Right.
ADAM BIXBY: Which is I think fifty-one percent or more of your house wasdestroyed. We were close to I think eighty or ninty percent of the value of the house was destroyed. We had substantial damage. ICC says we will give you $30,000 to raise your house, so I will take advantage of that.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Definitely.
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Would you think things have returned to normal? I know thehouse obviously isn't back to normal, but the community and everything? Or not yet?
ADAM BIXBY: Not yet. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people that arenot living in their house. Some people are, like onesies and twosies here and there. But a lot of people aren't. That house, they're going to be totally gutting it and destroying it. Two houses down, they're gutting it and destroying it. So no, definitely not, unfortunately. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How has it changed your daily life?
ADAM BIXBY: I still go to work. It's been nice, actually, staying here, eventhough I don't have the necessities, like hot water and a stove and all that stuff. To be honest, I like it better than staying in a hotel. I have my own place. I have my own TV, my own computers. It's home, you know what I mean? I like being at home.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: You have your own space.
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, my own space. That's been fine. We're having to go back tothe hotel next week. For the five months that were in the hotel, before I moved back home, it was okay. It was better than nothing. It's a nice little inn over in Atlantic Highlands, the Blue Bay Inn. They were awesome. They bent over backwards for us. The people that worked there loved my little kids. They would play with them. They bought them Christmas presents and stuff like that.
Santa Claus came during Christmastime. They had a little party for all of us.Because that whole Inn was filled up with Sandy victims.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Right.
ADAM BIXBY: That was really nice. They were awesome to us. They had noproblems with us staying for five months. We stayed in one of their suites there because we had the largest family. They were awesome.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Did the kids like it?
ADAM BIXBY: The kids liked it. They loved it. The people there, they liked.They were so nice to them. Every day they would show them their little stuffed animals and they would play with them. Eventually, they were like, "I just want to go home." They're not that thrilled about going back there now just because they're home and they don't want to have to go again.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Right.
ADAM BIXBY: But for what it is, I couldn't have found a better place. The BlueBay Inn was awesome.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you know how long you're going to be back there?
ADAM BIXBY: About a month, probably. Yes, it's probably about another month.Yeah, yeah, if not longer. I don't know. The guy told me three weeks, but I'm not holding my breath on three weeks. Nothing takes three weeks when you're dealing with construction.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Right.
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Especially with weather and everything.
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, exactly, yeah, yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: How has this changed your outlook on the community?
ADAM BIXBY: Far better. I just thought this was just another working-classneighborhood. I didn't really open myself up to meet anybody. Some people here and there. Now that I've got to meet more people during this, I have much higher feelings for these neighborhood. I love my neighbors. They're great. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What about your outlook on the world?
ADAM BIXBY: I try to have not let it damper me. It is what it is. That's how Ikind of look at it. It sucks. Not everybody has to go through disaster. We didn't. Maybe it's made me a stronger person. I don't now. I think there's worse things going on in the world, especially over in the Middle East, the fighting and all that kind of stuff, wars and all that stuff. So I look at my little disaster as just a blip on the radar compared to people in Syria that are having to live through civil war and their government bombing them [laughter]. That's far worse than a little storm coming through my house.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Yeah.
ADAM BIXBY: So you have to have some perspective.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Any changes to your political views?
ADAM BIXBY: No.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: No?
ADAM BIXBY: Not really.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you think it impacted the election [unintelligible - 01:00: 41] presidential election?
ADAM BIXBY: That's a good question. Probably not, because I don't think a lotof people just like Mitt Romney, to be honest. I normally would vote Republican, and I didn't like Mitt Romney at all.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Did you vote?
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, I voted for Obama, actually, even -- which is I think mostRepublicans would hate me. But to be honest, I thought he was the lesser of two evils. There's something about Mitt Romney. Now, I can't say -- I think Obama has done worse in his second term than his first term. If he came up for a third election, which would never happen, I definitely wouldn't vote for him. But I think at the time -- yeah, maybe. You know what? Maybe it did sway me a bit to vote for Obama, because maybe if this didn't happen -- I think I liked the way he acted with Christie. That kind -- that was -- it happened -- the election was right after this happened, so maybe that was -- you know what? Maybe it did. Maybe it did. I don't know.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you think it will affect the 2013 governor election?
ADAM BIXBY: Yes. To be honest, if Christie doesn't win, I would be shockedbecause I think he's got such a high percentage. People in the state love him now because of this whole situation.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Right.
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah. I think so.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What do you plan to tell your children when they grow, oryour grandchildren?
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah, I don't know. Why? Definitely my oldest is going to rememberit. We'll have conversations around this. I will definitely tell my grandkids that hey, did you know your mommy went through one of the worst storms to ever hit America and the history of the world [laughter]? I'll show them picture and that kind of stuff. I'll definitely tell them about it. I think they need to know about that kind of stuff. Hopefully the book that you guys are putting out, I'll purchase or whatever it comes out.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: If you want to give a message about the storm, what wouldit be?
ADAM BIXBY: Message about the storm. I don't know. I guess just one day at atime is really -- that's how I stayed sane. Really, to be honest, I couldn't wallow in it too much because I stayed sane by giving myself tasks to do. If you're a religious person, pray. I grew up religious, but I'm not really that religious. I'll go to church every once in a while.
I prayed every once in a while just for some strength. But it was more thesupport of the community helped out and finding things to do. There was plenty to do, so keeping yourself occupied is what kind of kept my stress levels down. Because anytime you kind of sit down and just think about it, you get that overwhelming feeling and you want to just die. Then you have to be like, "All right, I've got to stop myself. I have to rethink. I have to come up with tasks to do." That kept me sane. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: What do you think the legacy of the storm will be?
ADAM BIXBY: Well, hopefully positive. I hope the disaster that we went throughwill make everybody's houses nicer. I know my house is going to be a lot nicer when it's done because I get to get all new appliances and all new floors and everything.
That's a positive, I guess, right? And they're restoring the shore. Theboardwalks are getting put back up. Unfortunately it's not going to have that old-time traditional boardwalk any more. They're going to be all brand new. You're going to lose some of the historical value. But in the end, it's going to make us stronger. That's how New Jersey is. We get punched in the face and we come back stronger. Yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Okay. Well, did I miss anything or anything that I haven'tasked that I should've?
ADAM BIXBY: No, I don't think so. I think we've pretty much covered thedisaster from start to finish, really, yeah. It's not over yet unfortunately, but yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Day to day.
ADAM BIXBY: Day to day, that's exactly right. It's been frustrating, the whole-- just waiting I think has been the most frustrating part. It's almost six months… yeah, about six months since the storm hit, or maybe even longer. I don't remember now.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Well, we're in May.
ADAM BIXBY: We're in May, yeah.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: So more than.
ADAM BIXBY: Almost seven months or something like that. It's just waiting.It's waiting for permits to get pushed through. At first, the town was issuing permits like it was like candy. Then eventually they must have made a decision to stop. "Let's take a time out here and reevaluate what we're doing." Then they've been much slower as far as getting permits turned around. So most of the time since, these last seven months have been waiting for permits to get pushed through.
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Do you think that's also trying to help benefit thecommunity to make sure you're not getting screwed over, for lack of a better term?
ADAM BIXBY: Absolutely. Yeah, I would say -- you're right. It's not becausethey're just trying to screw us over. They want to make sure would do it right the first time and not just haphazardly go through and try to close up our walls with really bad insulation and just get really bad contractors in here and defrauding people or raising your house but not going high enough so that you're still not in compliance. Definitely, there's a means to their madness, if you will. It's just frustrating. You want what you want you now. I want to be able to move back into my house. I don't want to have to wait seven months. But I have to. It is what it is. What are you going to do?
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Yeah.
ADAM BIXBY: Yeah
BRITTANY LE STRANGE: Okay, that concludes our interview. Thank you very much.
ADAM BIXBY: Thank you. /AT/rj/es
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Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript:Mr. Bixby, how old are you?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby describes his house and who makes up his family. He also talks about how he got his job in computer security.
Keywords: Bayshore; Beach; Bedrooms; City; Cost; Dining room; Family; House; Houses; Jersey Shore; Kids; Kitchen; Lived; Living room; Moved; Neighborhood; New Jersey; New York; New York City; Normal; Rooms; Sandy Hook; Shore; Staten Island; Street; Trash; Work; Working
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript:All right. Tell me about your neighborhood and the community. How are you involved?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby describes the good things he hears about the school and the neighborhood as a whole. He also talks about the reputation and crime of the neighborhood.
Keywords: Area; Bayshore; Community; Crime; Fire department; Fundraisers; House; Hurricane Sandy; Involved; Keyport; Kids; Money; Moved; Neighborhood; Neighbors; Sandy; Sandy Hook; School; Schools; Street
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript:When did you first hear the storm was coming?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby described how he found out about Hurricane Sandy heading towards his home. He also goes in-depth about how he and his family prepared before the storm.
Keywords: Adequate warning; Area; Availability; Batteries; Bother; Car; Cars; Clean up; Destoryed; Doors; Evacuation; Flood insurance; Floors; Gas; Generator; Governor; Hit; Home; House; Hurricane; Hurricane Irene; Hurricane Sandy; Hurricanes; Irene; Lost; Money; Neighbors; News; News forecast; Photos; Power; Precautions; Prepare; Prepared; Property; Rain; Rescue; Response; Rooms; Safe; Sandy; Shore; Stores; Storm; Street; Supplies; Tornado; Town; TV; Water; Weather; Wind; Work; World
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript:You said you were there. Take me through your day. What were the first signs of the storm?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby discusses evacuating to his brother's house with his family when Hurricane Sandy hit. He also describes his findings when he sees his house for the first time since the storm passed.
Keywords: Borther; Car; Damage; Destroyed; Destruction; Disaster; Doors; Floors; Food; Garbage; Gas; Generator; Hit; House; Houses; Hurricane Irene; Kids; Lights; Lost; Lucky; Morning; Neighbor; Neighborhood; News; Night; Police; Power; Rooms; Sleep; Storm; Street; Trees; Water; Weather; Working; World
GPS: Holmdel, Nj.
Map Coordinates: 40.344835, -74.184242
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Partial Transcript:How did you get information that first day? Who were you talking to?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby shares his immediate family members that he contacted first. He also talks about the damages he suffered in his house.
Keywords: Beds; Brother; Contact; Damages; Destroyed; Dining room; Electricity; Flood; Floors; House; Immediate; Information; Insurance; Kids; Kitchen; Message; Morning; Neighborhood; News; Night; Outside; Phone; Pictures; Radio; Respond; Shocked; Sleep; Storm; Trees; Water; Wind
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript:What was -- could you describe the scene of the day, with the mood, like the community and everyone?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby describes feeling a sense of needing to get things going instead of showing that he was upset upon seeing the damage inside his home.
Keywords: Adjuster; AT&T; Cell phones; Community; Contractors; Coverage; Food; Garbage; Heat:Building; Helping; Home; Information; Insurance companies; Lucky; Mood; Neighborhood; Neighbors; Phone; Pictures; Police; Power; Respond; Scene; Shock; Storm; Work
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript:How did you go about getting your day-to-day necessities?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby describes how quickly businesses began to open up again and how fast the trash and mail services started up again. He also talks about how he finally got his house to dry up a bit after the storm.
Keywords: Area; Brother; Cleanup; Contractors; Day-to-day; Debris; Electricity; Emergency; FEMA; Flooding; Floors; Garbage; Gas; Gas lines; Gas shortage; Generators; Governor Christie; Helped; Helping; Horrible; House; Kids; Lived; Mail service; Necessities; Neighborhood; News; Pictures; Power outage; Stores; Storm; Street; Trash; Wall; Water; Weeks; Windows
GPS: Bluebay Inn (Atlantic Highlands, Nj.)
Map Coordinates: 40.414739, -74.037712
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript:Who would you look to for your support for help with the power companies, insurance companies, FEMA, and all that?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby shares about the assistance he received from FEMA which provided him with money for a hotel for a period of time. He also describes how he pushed on when it came to coping with the damages of Hurricane Sandy.
Keywords: Adjuster; Contact; Contractors; Cope; Curfews; Electricity; Family; FEMA; Gas; Help; House; Insurance; Insurance companies; Kids; Lived; Mess; Moved; National Guard; Neighbors; New Jersey; Power companies; Protocol; Sandy; State; Storm; Street; Support; Water; Work
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript:Right. Would you say the response of the community was positive or negative?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby describes the positive reaction the community had by coming together and helping one another recover. He also shares his involvement in helping others in his community after the storm.
Keywords: Adjuster; Area; Churches; Cleaning supplies; Community; Contractors; Contribute; Disaster; Donations; Family; FEMA; Floors; Food; Friends; Help; Helping; House; Insurance; Insurance companies; Involved; Kids; Kitchen; Lost; Money; Morning; Necessities; Negative; Neighborhood; Neighbors; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Positive; Public adjuster; Response; School; Street; Volunteers; Working; World
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript:Do you believe New Jersey prepared adequately?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby explains that he thinks New Jersey did prepare adequately and that Governor Christie did a great job in managing things and setting expectations.
Keywords: Accurate; Area; Build; Christie; Control; Coverage; Devastation; Expect; federal government; Floodgates; Freak occurrence; Global warming; Media; Money; Neighborhood; New Jersey; News; Oklahoma; Prepared adequately; Radio; Response; Sensational; Storm; TV; Wall; Weeks; World
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript:What did you think about Obama and Christie's first responses?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby shares how he really appreciated the fact that Governor Christie did not let politics get in the way of helping out with the recovery from Hurricane Sandy. He also talks about what changes he's faced in terms of environmental views and his plans to raise his house.
Keywords: Beach; Changed; Christie; Cost; Country; Damage; Dandy; Debris; Disaster; Donations; Environmental issues; Experience; Government; Governor Christie; Help; Helping; Home; House; Hurricane Katrina; Hurricane Sandy; Information; Insurance; Katrine; Kids; Mayor; Money; Neighborhood; Obama; Ocean; Politics; Precautions; President Obama; Republicans; Response; Roof; Sandy Hook; Storm; Support; Vote; Warning
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript:Would you think things have returned to normal? I know the house obviously isn't back to normal, but the community and everything? Or not yet?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby shares that even though he doesn't have all of his necessities in his home, he still feels better being back there. He also states that he doesn't let his outlook on the world get to him because people are suffering through much worse things than a hurricane.
Keywords: Changed; Chirstie; Community; Construction; Daily life; Destroyed; Election; Family; Home; Hotel; House; Hurricane Sandy; Kids; Neighbors; Neighoborhood; Normal; Obama; Outlook; Political; Republicans; Sandy; Shock; STate; Storm; Victim; Water; Weather; Work; World
Direct segment link:
Partial Transcript:What do you plan to tell your children when they grow, or your grandchildren?
Segment Synopsis: Bixby describes how constantly performing different tasks helped him to get through the tough time after Sandy hit. He also believes that this storm will make the community stronger.
Keywords: Boardwalks; Children; Church; Community; Contractors; Day to day; Disaster; Floors; Grandchildren; Grow; Helped; Hit; House; Legacy; Message; New Jersey; Positive; Religious; Shore; Storm; Support