TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: My name is Trudi-Ann Lawrence. I'm here recording on05-21 at the Spy House. Can you tell me your name for the record?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: It's Barbara Sefchek.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: If you don't mind, can you state your age?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I'm 61. I'll be 62 in December.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: For the recording, can you state your ethnicity?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: White Caucasian.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How long have you lived in your home?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: In my home, since 1986. In Port Monmouth, since I was twoyears old.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Do you mind sharing the price of the house?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Back then, I think we paid… I want to say about… geez, Iwant to say about $70,000.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How many rooms are in the house?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I have a four-bedroom home with a bath and a half.1:00
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Is there any reason why you chose the house in which youchose to live?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Because it was close to the rest of my family who lived in Port Monmouth.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: You lived in New Jersey all your life, right?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Yes.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Can you tell me about your family, who makes up yourfamily, who you live with?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I just live with Rebecca and Emily.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, and they're your…?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I'm their great aunt.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Great aunt.
BARBARA SEFCHEK: My sister died from cancer and these were her children… herdaughter's daughter. I have guardianship of one and I've adopted the other one.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.
BARBARA SEFCHEK: But I have two children.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Of my own.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Your occupation?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I'm a corporate buyer for Meridian Health.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How long have you been doing it?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Ten years with Meridian.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you mind sharing your salary income and bracket?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Yes.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. What do you like about living in New Jersey?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I've lived here all my life but I also lived in Mississippi,2:00Florida, Berlin, Germany. Home is where the heart is and this is where my family was.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: What attracts you to the area, would you say?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: The seashore, the Bayshore.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: This is where you usually spend most of your time hanging out?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Oh, yes. All my life.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Have you seen Jersey Shore, the TV show?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: A little bit but not a lot, no.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. How involved would you say you are in the community?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Well, when I worked at AT&T in Middletown, I volunteered forthree years in the Cancer Center at Riverview Medical Center. When I was a young girl growing up here, I was a candy striper for Riverview Medical Center.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How would you say the schools… is there any crime in thecommunity, the economics, community events, the reputation of the community?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: The school is wonderful. They were so supportive in our time3:00of need. They deserve a medal. My children, especially during the holidays and being displaced, they saw Santa Claus so many times, you would have thought him and I were dating.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: [Laughs] Okay, we're going to start talking about the storm,just the recollection of your memory of what exactly went down. When did you first hear the storm was coming?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Probably a couple of days that it was going to be a seriousstorm. Living by the Bayshore, you are always susceptible to some kind of weather. But the fact that this storm was going to be… they were expecting it to be a little bit more severe and they wanted everybody to evacuate. We even saw… Governor Christie came in down the street on one of the parks. And we happened to go down there so we saw the helicopters and stuff like that because 4:00he spoke at the firehouse.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: What were your first thoughts when you heard the storm was coming?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Just to prepare to evacuate. We had never really gotten a lotof water in the house. I had been affected by Irene, but only because the water sucked up, so it really hadn't come in. Now I have like… it's up to the second part of my window and over my air conditioner. That's a big difference.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: What did you expect? Did you expect it to be as powerful asit was?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I took what they said serious and I opened up my brand newcouch and had a couch bed. I put everything up there thinking we've never really gotten maybe an inch or two in the house at one time. I didn't really think it would go that high. I had to put my new recliner up there. I actually kind of threw out my back. So when we left, the next day, I wasn't even able to 5:00go to work because I was there with just the two little girls by myself and we were trying to get up as much as we could off the floor figuring as high as the table things would be safe.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. How did you prepare in terms of availability ofsupplies, wait in lines in the stores?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I stayed with a friend who has a generator in Middletown, overby Highway 35. She had everything there.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, so you didn't go and purchase anything yourself?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: No, I didn't need to. I mean, I took what I needed here forthe girls. I made sure I had peanut butter and jelly. Obviously, I had to pick up things like water, made sure we had batteries. Actually, which was very unusual, I actually took one of my little… I took a TV with me and a little DVD player. I wish I had taken all my DVDs but I took some, because I figured 6:00well, if the kids were sitting there with her having a generator, they would at least be able to watch a movie.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you feel like you had adequate warning?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I don't think anybody knew that Sandy was such a big girl.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How do you feel about the governor and his warnings?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: The fact that he came down to Middletown, I think they alreadyknew and have known for years that Port Monmouth was in danger.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Port Monmouth had an evacuation warning in your area?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: They've had it before. They've actually come down for otherstorms and had a helicopter come over telling us that we needed to leave the area.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did you evacuate?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Always. I grew up here so I don't take Mother Nature lightly.7:00
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Any other preparations that you made for your car or anything?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I took it with me. We spent 10 years in the military, myex-husband. They teach you to always be prepared. One time, we just had an outage and I went and I took out all these little tap lights and I placed them up the stairs and my son said, "My, god, mom. I can't believe but the military kind of already trained you to always be prepared." You should always make sure that you have a plan B.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I've always had kind of a kit of something. I make sure I haveflashlights. I make sure I have fire extinguishers. I make sure I have things around.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Where did you evacuate to?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: To Middletown.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Middletown. Okay. So take me through the day of the storm.When did you realize that the storm is near, it is actually here? 8:00
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Well, we got the house all ready as well as we thought. Inhindsight now, we thought we had picked up everything much harder than we ever even needed to. We left Sunday about 4 o'clock and went over to my friend's house in Middletown and everything was fine there. When the storm actually started to come and you can hear the weather, she actually really did kind of lose her TV so we weren't able to actually watch a lot of it although we had power. I guess the cable and stuff was affected. I was very lucky. My connection was with Verizon and so therefore I was able to have a little bit of phone connection. Not that I used it at that time. It was afterwards the storm with work and stuff that I found out other people didn't have the connection that I had.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did the children go to school on Monday?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: No.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: No, because you guys…
BARBARA SEFCHEK: We were out for a couple of days.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: You got the storm Sunday night, right? Okay, we got it9:00Monday evening. It's different [laughs]. What were mostly the weather conditions?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: It was a hurricane. The winds were big.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: It was windy, rainy.
BARBARA SEFCHEK: You could hear it. Sounded like a train.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did power go out where you were in Middletown?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I wasn't down here. Where I was, her power went out but shehad a generator.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Did you have dinner normally as everybody would?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I think in any of those situations, you don't cook a big meal.Everybody is already planning on just kind of having sandwiches or having something… more concerned that you're not sure what's going to happen or what might go on. I mean, a tree could fall down; a wire could fall down, a pole. I think everybody kind of is not like sitting down to like a Thanksgiving feast. You know what I mean? You're like fixing for the kids and you want to make sure 10:00they're playing games or that… I think you're more into that than into the food.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How did you get information on the first day? Who did youspeak to in terms of getting in contact with anyone?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I think it was probably my boss, Meridian Health. Like I said,I was fortunate I had the phone and they sent me a text telling me that everything was… because I called and said my back is out. I was kind of like hurt from having picked up the chair to the couch and stuff trying to prepare. I didn't expect that to happen but I'm old so it kind of like… so I called them and I said, "You know, my back's bothering me. I'm not going to come in today." I really wasn't aware of the full force of the storm until I walked into my own home.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. What was going through your head the next day after11:00the storm happened, apart from calling out from work? When did you… I really should ask you, when did you return home?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I would say probably Tuesday. Monday, it was still kind ofbad. Tuesday was… because we actually really thought we would only be staying there for overnight. We didn't actually really realize that we're going to have to stay there for two-and-a-half months and then have to move someplace else. We didn't know we were not going to be returning to the home.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. What did you see when you first arrived?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I was horrified. The couch that I put everything on… therecliner was across the room. The couch was up against the wall. You could see where the waterline was above the window, above the air conditioner. I could not believe after living here all these years that that had been that much water.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How did you respond?12:00
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Well, I was probably in a little bit of a shock, teary-eyed,confused, not knowing… I mean, what do you do? Luckily, my two children and a friend came over and when they saw that the refrigerator was actually in the kitchen on its back, they went it and started trying to empty water out to help so that it wouldn't smell and stuff like that.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did you bring the girls with you when you came to see thehouse the first time?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: No.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I just wasn't sure if the neighborhood even has trees and wiresand so I…
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: The safety.
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Yeah, I just left them with my friend. I said I don't wantthem to go out just yet.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Tell me about the damages that you suffered withinyour home.
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I have on my first floor two bedrooms of which one I was usingas an office. I have a living room and a dining room and an eating kitchen and 13:00a laundry room and my master bathroom. Right now, it's nothing. Everything is gone. The walls are gone. The floor is gone. When you look down, you could see the dirt in the crawlspace.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Describe the scene and the mood of the community when you arrived.
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I don't think we really saw that many people. I think when wecame in, we looked. My children stayed more than me. I was, of course, in shock. I couldn't believe it and I still had the girls. I assessed the situation, never thinking that it was as bad as it is or it was. I just thought, okay, we went through this a little bit with Irene. We were out of the house for three-and-a-half months. We're going to rebuild. We can do this.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do your two biological children live in Port Monmouth?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: No. My daughter lives on the other side of the Marina in14:00Middletown where she could walk out of her house right down this beach and put her foot in the sand and got not one drop. I live over a block away and got about six feet in my house.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Take me through the next day after you saw the propertydamage. What did you do from there?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Well, then you try to decide how you're going to handle it.You first call your insurance and you find out what is it that you're going to have to do now and of course we had a little bit of knowledge from having been through Irene. We called up the insurance and we put in our claims.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: You came to Port Monmouth, assessed the area, and then youwent back to Middletown to where…
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Where my children were.15:00
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: The generator worked pretty well for her while she wasthere. You were able to still do pretty much the same day-to-day necessities -- take a shower, eat food.
BARBARA SEFCHEK: For us, yes, we were very fortunate. We didn't have any TV.That was weird because we heard there was supposed to be so much on the TV, but we weren't access to it.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How long did they not have power in Middletown?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Oh, geez. Because she had the generator, that would be hardfor me to… I know when I came home on one of the pictures that I sent to you, you can see where the water is above my meter. I had, before I left, shut off all my circuit breaker because like I said, I've been here all my life, military experience. I just shut everything off. I was fortunate that when I came home, 16:00I didn't try to turn anything on because I had no idea that the water had gone up so high that it was over the box until they took me up there and showed me that the box was filled with water.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you know when any stores opened up around the area?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Yeah. I would say within a couple of days, our ShopRite upthere on Middletown North was working with generators and stuff, I remember.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did you have to deal with the gas shortage?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Yes.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: You did. How long did it take you and where did you go toget gas?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Up to Woodbridge.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How long of a wait was that?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: When you get up there, you might have waited an hour and a half.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Who did you look to for support? The power company, did youcall them? I know you said you called the insurance company when you made your 17:00claim. Who else did you contact?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Mostly, I was dealing with work because I knew that they hadsaid that the children were out of school which was a blessing. I didn't have to worry about them having clothes because like I said, we only thought we were going to be gone for a short period of time. I wasn't prepared for even like a five-day vacation. I was prepared for like an overnight. The school was wonderful and the fact that Middletown went ahead and just stopped everything and just made it so that the kids were out of the school and that was my biggest concern. My work was very good because they had no power. They were telling us don't come in.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How long did response take from the companies that you contacted?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: The insurance company, the insurance agent that I had, camedown and he came… actually, my niece came over the day before and she said, 18:00"Aunt Barbra, we have to take pictures." She said, "I'll help you." She came down and she was taking pictures. That night, my neighbor said to me, "Barbra, I already have my house being gutted." I'm like, "How are you doing that so fast?" He said, "The Christian Ministry is here." He brought me over. He introduced me to the guy. He brought the gentleman over to my home. He said, "We'll be here in the morning." I was there in the morning. He had about 20 kids and they removed everything from my first floor to the ceiling, except for the floor. At that time, the floor was still in. At that time was when the insurance agent happened to come at the same time they were here. I did call for a structural engineer to come and at least let me know, because the person that I was staying with was a retired realtor, about the structure of the house, 19:00if it was… to have them look at the house to make sure that it was okay with all these people going in and out.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did your town have any protocols, any curfews?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: You couldn't enter my town without showing your ID that youlived here and you couldn't get into Port Monmouth. There were police at every entrance.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Was there anybody else that helped you to clean your home?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Yes. Afterwards, the AmeriCorps, I think it is, came and theydid the mildew and the drying and they ripped out the floor. They said the floor had to go. They ripped all that out so the house was totally gutted.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How did you cope?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I couldn't stay in the house long. I can't stay in the houselong now. I go in for five minutes and then I have to leave because I had just redone the whole house and brought it up to code and just had brand new 20:00laminated floors put down. The house was so ready to be sold. I actually had spoken with a realtor. And to go into it now, to see it, it just broke my heart.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did you feel safe? How was the response of the police?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I thought I was really handling everything pretty well,especially after having dealt with Irene. But when I was riding down the street and the street was pitch black, it looked like a warzone. Everywhere you looked, there was a pile of rubbish and people's houses were all dark and when I got by the park, I actually broke down and had to stop the car. I realized what a real impact this had.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: The religious community, they were very helpful for you?21:00
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I feel that my church in particular, that the religiouscommunities were not great. I feel that personally if it wasn't for the schools and Meridian Health, they were our champions.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: The police weren't helpful? They weren't…?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: The police just made sure people were going in and out becausethey had found out that people were coming and stealing. I didn't really have any other…
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did you get any immediate aid?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: From Meridian Health.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: What kind of aid did they provide?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Gift cards. People were very good. The schools were very goodabout the gift cards. The firehouses. Then Meridian came up with a grant that we could use for what we needed as far as gas and stuff like that. I was 22:00actually a little disappointed and didn't realize until recently that the religious community was not there. That was very disappointing to me because I've been a member of my church for 59 years.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How long was school out?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I would say a week. It's very hard for me to put timeframes onthings. First of all, I had been ill at one time and I had a stroke so my memory and all of that stuff isn't actually the best.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Is this a bussed community where the children get bussed to school?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: If you're on this side of the highway, the children do getbussed. Even though the school is right across the highway, anybody on this side of the highway, they're very good about bussing.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: They were bussed…
BARBARA SEFCHEK: My children went to the local daycare at the firehouse. Nowthe firehouse here was always supposed to be our rescue place, but they got 23:00four-and-a-half feet of water themselves. Our daycare actually was closed for a couple of months. They had to go to the daycare across the street and walk to school because our daycare had to be rebuilt.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did you make any contributions to the community in any way?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Aside from being there for people that would break down in myarms and talking to my neighbors, trying to keep everybody's spirits lifted, if I hadn't been out of my home, I probably would have been running up and down and having coffee or even probably having people in and out of my home.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: You lost everything, completely everything that was on thefirst floor?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Everything.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Nothing could be salvaged? How do you feel about thegovernmental response and the other local organizations?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I actually thought that the government, they have paid for the24:00displacement. I'm on the displacement in order for me to pay because of course now once I realized that I was homeless, I had to secure clothes for the girls and my girlfriend that we were living with who had only expected us to be there for overnight was gracious enough to let us stay with her for about two-and-a-half months, and then I went down to Howell at another friend's house where I went and took my girls there. We have like a 55-minute commute up and back every day each way in order for me to bring them up to their daycare once that was rebuilt for them to go to school and then for me to go back to Neptune to go to work and then I have to do the reverse to go home at night.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right. Do you feel that New Jersey prepared adequately,enough dunes were provided?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: No.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you think they mandated you enough of raising your25:00houses? Do you think that there could have been something more that they could have told you to do?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I think in the year 2000 when they got the money to put up thedunes like they did in Middletown North, they should have done that. I feel that we were their poster child. They were always complaining about that we would get the water and we would get it. They actually built this area up so the Spy House didn't get touched, but they allowed the water to come in through the creeks which went right into the homes.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: The Spy House didn't… nothing?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Not a drop. The old Port Monmouth Road was very, very low. Iwrote a letter in 2003, and I actually have a copy, to the president saying to him, not because of me but at the end of my street, people were getting water now in their basements and stuff, and told them that we were in danger, that they had changed the water flow. 26:00
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: What could the state have done differently?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: They could have put up the dunes like they did in Keansburg andin Middletown. As their own letter that I sent you shows, they didn't get a drop of water. My daughter literally lives on the other side of the dike on the water and didn't get a drop.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you feel like there's anyone to blame for what happenedwith Hurricane Sandy or it's just Mother Nature taking her toll?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I believe that the government knew and for years, that letteractually proves, and I didn't write it, a political officer did, that since 1970, they knew we're at risk.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How do you feel about the media coverage?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I didn't see a lot of TV. Unfortunately, that was the onething that you're hoping to see. Luckily, I had the DVDs and the children were 27:00okay but we were like not… we would hear from other people but we didn't know what was going on.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How do you feel about Obama and Christie making their appearance?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I don't believe that Obama probably knew that the Corps of ArmyEngineers knew. For me, they've always targeted this area personally. They bought up all the houses here. They fixed all these up, but they didn't take care of the citizens.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did Christie's appearance change or Christie's reactionchange your opinion about Christie?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I like Christie so I think they all knew, "Oh, no, this isreally coming." Afterthought is… I don't think anybody really expected it to 28:00be as bad as it was. I always referred to her, super storm Sandy, as the biggest yard sale I'll ever have.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Why is that?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I lost everything and the insurance company pro-rated what Igot back. So it was like a yard sale.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Wow. How do you feel about the response of the rest of the country?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I really think that the American people really tried to help.I mean, family from Texas sent us money on a gift card. Other people, I mean, the firehouse is… this is the first year Christmas was from Santa Claus. I did not buy a thing and I had absolutely no idea what they were getting for real. I mean, people dropped off big black bags. We'd go to the school and 29:00we'd leave with… then putting bags in the car. When I put everything out, when Santa Claus put everything out, it was just as much a surprise to me. A lot of the things were wrapped, so I didn't even know. I said this is the first year Santa Claus really came. People were wonderful.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How do you feel the response to Port Monmouth and the BayArea in comparison to when Hurricane Katrina hit?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I don't know enough, but having been in the military, havingbeen a minority in a foreign country, I don't believe that the people of Katrina, to this day, as American citizens, got what they deserve. They deserved much better. I think we might have benefited a little bit from that 30:00experience and that people did step forward and not wait on the government to help, but I bet you still there's still people in Katrina that lost everything. If you are a retired person and this is your home and it's gone, you can't go out to work. It's not that easy for you to get up and pick up and move. I'm sure it was very similar to the people that were living in… I had lived down there in Mississippi. I was in New Orleans. It was great when I was there. I'm sure they love their town as much as we love ours. I think they didn't get the proper justice, to me. Not that they didn't get some. There were a lot of people that went down there to help build houses. I'm not saying that but I think more. The American people, we help so many other people. 31:00
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Has this shaped your environmental views in any way?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Definitely because I believe in the warming, that water isdefinitely higher. I just looked now. It does look a little lower than it has when I've come down here. You can tell that the ocean came into the bay and you could tell that the bay is probably full of houses and debris. It's not been cleaned out. Any little storm now is going to bring water back. It's like a pool. If the pool is down here and now after Sandy the pool is up here, when it rains, it's going to overflow.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: After this, do you think you're going to take any personalprecautions, any more personal precautions and changes, maybe move, raise your house a little bit more?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: We didn't find out we had to raise our houses until December15th, around there. As a homeowner, repairing my house, I'd already probably be 32:00back in my house. Seven months later, I'm still trying to get my plans from the architect so that I could raise my house. It is definitely a different world.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: You're planning to move back in your home?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I am.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: You're planning to rebuild and start over?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I am.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How much higher are you planning to raise your home?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: As high as the garage. Because the people at the end of ourstreet, I understand, did what FEMA told them with Irene and lost everything with Sandy. I don't want to do it again. If I do it, I want to do it and be done.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: I know that you're currently displaced, but for the mostpart, have things returned to normal for you?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: No.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: No? Why is that?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Because of the travel.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I mean, I don't have the time to sit down and do their homework33:00with them as much as I would use to. You know what I mean? We're eating on the run. They can't wait until I get all the way back down to Howell to eat. I'm stopping to eat. It's expensive. In that respect, no. I can't wait for CCD… it just got over. I took them to the religious education every week. They're in a dance that their grandfather pays for them from Texas. I have to come up anyway on a Saturday even though I don't live up here now. No, things are not back to normal.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Are there any changes in the outlook of your community?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: No. I'll tell you a couple of stories about Port Monmouth if I can.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: You sure can.
BARBARA SEFCHEK: When my children were little and we moved back here afterhaving… my ex is in the military. We went to Little Jersey Joe's across the 34:00street. I lived on Collins Avenue all my life with my brothers and sisters. My mother loved Port Monmouth. She knew everybody. She could have been the mayor. We would always walk down to the beach and go swimming and stop at the Jersey Joe's. Everybody knew everybody. It's a small fishing area. When I came back with my children years later and we went into Jersey Joe's, he said to my children, "I remember your mother when she was your age," and that was true. That's how Port Monmouth is. When I went and I had to get the dumpster after AmeriCorps ripped up my floor, I had such a hard time to get the contractor. I got a contractor to take care of it. I couldn't get a good contractor. I'm still working on that. I had a dumpster delivered. My daughter had a big Easter egg hunt for all the kids down here at this field across the street. All the kids that we knew came down here to have an Easter egg hunt. I got a call on 35:00my cellphone from my neighbor, Joan, and she said to me, "We saw that they delivered a dumpster outside your house." She said, "My son and his buddy said they'll load it for you." I said, "No, no. I already paid it. It's already included in the price. I don't want them to get hurt." That's what kind of neighborhood… I didn't have to go and say, "Could you help me?" Here's all the stuff with nails and flooring and toilet bowl and the neighbor calls me and says, "My kids want to help you." That's how Port Monmouth is. The same thing with the daycare. When the daycare finally rebuilt, the director, Judy, called me up from Pitter Patter and she said, "Are you going to come back? You promised you'd come back." I said to her, "We're not fair weather friends in Port Monmouth." I said, "My kids were just as happy at the other daycare." They were very nice, and they said to me, too, when I told them we were going back to Pitter Patter, they said I told them from day one that I would always return when Miss Judy needed us. Because my girls were there since I've had 36:00them. That's how Port Monmouth is.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you have any changes to the outlook of the world?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I'm a little disappointed in my church and the religiouscommunity. I asked around. I said, "Maybe I missed it." I'm not in town. Where one doesn't provide, god provides another way. Meridian Health and the school, Port Monmouth School, was outstanding. I just can't talk enough about how good they are with the kids. The government realizing it's hard enough to have a catastrophe come or something devastating, but to have somebody make destructive decisions on your behalf and not do what they were supposed to do in 1970, in 2000, and now we have this, and the letter actually says, "Well, it was 37:00floundering in Congress." What does that mean to me? If you had done this, I wouldn't have lost everything, and you admit to it.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Are there any changes to your political views? Doyou think that Hurricane Sandy affected the presidential election at the time?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: No. I think Obama… like I said, they inherited this andnobody, nobody knew that Sandy was going to be to the extent that she was. I really think that Obama has tried to be there. I think they were there more for Sandy than they were for Irene. When it happened in Irene, the SBA told me I had a certain amount of damage and I got a third of it. I said, "This is like unbelievable. You have your own quote telling you and I still never got…" 38:00But for Sandy, it's yet to be seen. So far, I think that they really have stepped up from my previous experience. Christie, I think, is really trying to do a good job. My fault with the government right now is the senator, the congressmen, need to step up and say, "We don't want to fix the beaches anymore because the water is coming because of the environment." We need to put the floodgates and get the shovels up to protect the homes.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you think that this has an impact on the governmentalelection that's coming up?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Yes. I think that possibly for me, I'm kind of open-minded inthe fact that I feel Mother Nature played more. It's going to be a long process, like you said, even with Katrina, and even with myself, just trying to 39:00get the soil tested. I don't have any knowledge on all of that, find out how to build a house. That's all going to take a little bit of time, trying to find out. Everybody is so busy because it's not just this little area. You're at a disadvantage there. But my biggest thing is that they knew ahead of time. Dealing with nature was one thing. Dealing with something that could have been prevented and they knew about it is what hurts.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: What would you tell your children and your grandchildrenabout the storm… the future generation?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: She was a super storm and I'm only hoping I don't meet her sister.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: If you wanted to give a message, a general message about thestorm, what would it be?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: The American people are strong and they will come back.40:00
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Would you say that that's also the legacy of the storm or isthere a different legacy for the storm?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I think people need to take the global warming a little moreserious. I think the fact that the ocean came into the bay because the water level is so much higher is not going to go away.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Due to global warming?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I believe a lot of it is. Yes.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Related to it?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: Yes. I do, I really do believe a lot of it is related to it.I think that all of the weather changes that we're seeing have a lot to do with it.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Is there anything that you would like to share thatI've missed out?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I would just like to thank the people for being there for us,especially Meridian Health, and for my friends who took us in, and for my 41:00neighbors who watched my house while I'm not in it, and for the people who come over that have really tried to help including the people right now who are the contractors and the… there is a church up here who is working now very closely with Middletown to try to help the people get some kind of a grant through the Robin Hood. It's the Baptist Church, the new Monmouth Baptist Church, I believe. They are… I have been in touch with them. What I found out is if I didn't sign up for something because they knew that you were in this area, they would call me up and say, "Do you know they've given out a $100 gift card? Did you sign up?" And you'd be like, "Oh, I'm not even in the area. I didn't hear about it." Through word of mouth and through the organizations, even Middletown, I've had people call me and say, "We didn't see your application here." They've been very, very good about that. I think that probably is maybe 42:00the good thing that came out of Katrina. Probably those people, I don't believe, had as much attention as we did.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, if there's nothing else that you'd like to share, I'mgoing to go ahead and end this recording.
TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Your final statement about the storm?
BARBARA SEFCHEK: I would just say for me personally is don't take life serious.It isn't permanent.