0:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: My name is Trudi-Ann Lawrence. Today is August 28th. Can you state your name?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Dorothy Gajewski.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, and yours.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: [Unintelligible].

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. If you don't mind, how old you are? Share your age.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I'm 69.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Sixty-six.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. And your ethnicity for the record.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Excuse me?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Your ethnicity for the record?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I'm white.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: White [unintelligible].

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How long have you lived in your home.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Twenty-five years in September.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. What was the cost of the house when you first purchased it?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: 147,000.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How many rooms were in the house?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Three bedrooms, a full bath, half a bath, garage, living room, dining room, and kitchen.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Six and a half.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Six and a half.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Is there any specific reason why you chose that home 1:00in particular?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Well, in 1988, I decided to move out of Jersey City, where I grew up. I was born and raised in Jersey City and there was some problems in the neighborhood so I said it's time to move out. And we moved down where my sisters live, Clifford Beach, Union Beach. My sister Cathy lives in Union Beach probably about 40 years, and my kid sister, she was only 36 in 1988, the youngest set of six sisters, and she knew I was looking for a house. She called me up and she goes, "Dort, I found this house. You are just going to love this house. And she has a big berry bush in the front, with all red berries. It's so beautiful." I went in to see. "You need to come down." I went down with my ex-husband at the time, took a look around and I said, "This is it." I sold my house in Jersey City for the same amount for 147. I only paid 17,000 for it in 2:00Jersey City. That's how much it went up, but that was in 1971 in Jersey City I bought that house. So, I purchased the house in Union Beach for 147. I put a lot of money down on it. My sister was so excited and I fell in love with the house. I went for the walk through and I was very pleased because the prior owner did a lot of upkeep. The cabinets, the extensions full Anderson Windows, beautiful double Anderson door. It was beautiful. Well-kept tiled floor. Everything that you could ask for. A wooden floor in the dining room. Bay window in the dining room also. In December of '88, my kid sister -- I had, you 3:00know, Christmas dinner for all of us, and she passed away in January of mitral valve prolapse. She had a valve replacement.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: She passed away, but she wanted me down here and I'm still here. She has a son and we're very close to my family so we kind of keep in touch a lot.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Where exactly in Union Beach is the home? Looking at what street?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Right on Poole Avenue. It's a block away from the Borough Hall and right on the corner. It's a white house. Corner of Poole and [unintelligible] and they have…

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: I know the house. I literally did an interview across the street.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Are you kidding?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Yeah.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Lettie?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: No. Sheryl.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: She rents the house.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Oh my God. Yes. Yes, she came down the police station the same night they took us out in the [unintelligible].

4:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: She had a house raised already.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Yeah.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Yeah, right on the corner with all the blue bows around.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Yes, and they cut your grass.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: They finally. We got a notice from the enforcement saying that the code enforcement that we made. One was like really big.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: We did have volunteers that cut it before and I said, "I have a shed. I don't have anything left."

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Everything in the shed was destroyed. I came home [unintelligible], I'm disabled. My husband came. He had a stent put in his heart a few years ago. I put it on Facebook, you know, because there's Union Beach strong, it's a website and Jeanette kind of runs it. She's a sweet girl. She text me and called me right back with connected some woman from Key Port. Her husband did it for us and Union Beach said, "I'm sorry. It's the owner's 5:00responsibility." I said, "But you promised. We're on the list for a long time now." I can't even get into my pod. Everything I own in the world is in that park. She's, "Well, it's the owner's responsibility and we could only what we could do." Fine. So, Jeanette took care of it and the people from Key Port did it this past weekend. And I was so -- I mean they didn't re-rack or blow it like I used to do it, but they did a good job.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: They did a very good job. Yes.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Small world.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Yes. I know -- well, I'm not a neighboring person.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Like I know my neighbors and I love them, but we don't hang out.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right. Okay. Tell me who makes up your family and who lived in a home with you?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Me and my husband, and my son was living with me at the time.

6:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Plus my daughter rebuilt my garage into an apartment for herself, and she put a lot of money in, you know. Beautiful carpeting. She was married twice and she got divorced from the first marriage and she wanted to come home. Fine, you can home, but she built this whole apartment herself. It was a kitchen, her own half-bathroom. Her room was a small room but she had a big built-in-closet and my brother-in-law put up a wall to make like a pantry for me.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: It was very nice. And then I had a couple of people that stayed there. My cousin Carl, he was looking for a place. I had people come and stay there once in a while. Then my son stayed with me because he had a problem for a while and he was staying with me at the time. They took him out 7:00[unintelligible] too with the cat.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right. What is your current occupation if you have one?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Well, we've been on unemployment since Sandy because we stayed in a hotel, in the Comfort Inn for like twenty-two days.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Twenty-four days.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Twenty-four days. It was the only room they had left in town. So, FEMA was paying for this. If you want to go on to.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: No, I was just going to -- the only problem was that at the time right in it was very [unintelligible] point anyways.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: So, when the time was up at the hotel, the only place we can go is to my daughter's apartment in West [unintelligible] which is 80 miles away, and that's where we've been staying.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: They've been renting up there and commuting back and forth.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: My daughter lives close by but her husband's a cop. So, we 8:00were staying there a couple of days a week. He's days that he's working and he's not coming home that night which is good since she had the room. My other son lives in Middletown, but they took his mom in, his mother-in-law, because she had a major stroke. They're going to take care of her so they add on to the living room and they have no room. I can't sleep on a couch because I had a major stroke in 2009 and I had congestive heart failure in 2012 and I have severe COPD. That's breathing.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right. Okay. What do you like about living in New Jersey?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I always liked New Jersey. I just bought a sweatshirt that says, "I'm a Jersey Girl." Yeah, I'm a Jersey girl. I liked Jersey City. I 9:00would love to always live there, but it got really bad. I have a lot of friends there and I drove a school bus there for 18 years for the country at some country vocational school. I drove a school bus. And I'm a bus attendant now. After going out on disability in 2001, I could no longer drive a bus and I started going back to work in 2008 working for a health insurance company as a bus attendant and mostly for handicapped, special needs children, Down Syndrome, autism. And I've been out of work since Sandy, but I'm going back September 9th. I called them today as I'm going back.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: That's good. Okay, can you tell me about Union Beach, the community, how the economics and the school is?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: There's only one school in Union Beach.

10:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: And as far as I know, it's -- I know that my nieces and my nephews, they all liked [unintelligible] and they finished eighth grade and they all loved it. They said, it's a great school. I didn't have any contact with the school, only my sister used to work there as a teacher's aide. My nieces and nephews went to school there and they graduated from there. They're married now and they have their own children. Time goes fast. Economics, it's a poor town. I don't think it's -- people…

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: It's blue collar.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Yeah and people like -- I just -- I think it's friendly, a very friendly town. People kind of sit together and I could see. I mean Union Beach, Borough Hall was excellent. I have to give them a lot of compliments. We got a lot of help from them and the volunteers were incredible. They come in and they've ripped everything out of my house, all the wall. They did two other 11:00walls down, took out the cabinets. They did all the heavy duty work for us. There was so much health, and the Red Cross, Salvation Army. The people, the church is Gateway Church. It was unbelievable. They still open their doors. They still open their doors if you have a problem and we're still dealing with them because we got rid of our asbestos. Finally today was the last step. My nephew brought it down to the center. They had to wait and move that stuff and they have to pay for everything. My son tore it all up the first time, all the little black tiles that was upstairs in the bedrooms. The only thing that didn't get wet.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: He tore out all those tiles, logged them down to the center to bring them. They came to re-inspect said we failed. It was in the glue, in the 12:00glue that they put the tiles on so my son went and scraped everything up again and my nephew took everything down today. So, now we're going to be re-inspected again. Hopefully we're going to pay us and they should put us on the list and knock it down. But FEMA is not paying any more on that [unintelligible].

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, can you tell me about when you first heard the storm was coming?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Well, you think about this now? When we heard about Sandy coming.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: When we first heard?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Yes.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: I don't know.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: We got worried.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Well, they -- I mean they were talking about it for several days and then they kept saying it was going to be bad, that bad, whatever. They said that about Irene.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: They forced us to evacuate during Irene and when we came back 13:00to the house the next day [unintelligible] and there was nothing. There wasn't even a branch now.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: It was close. My son was out there shoving the water away from the garage.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: With this one, what happened was we were going to ride it out. We figured, all right, we're going to get water, the water will come in. The house sits on core slabs. There's cross basement. The living room and dining room are raised about maybe twenty-four inches from the lower level slabs. We figured we'd start putting whatever we could up to the dining room. Unfortunately, we had six foot water in the house.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: That was in the garage.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: [Unintelligible] first floor, and then even up into the kitchen and dining room the water was up over your knees.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I guess so.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: And the living room was up here and everything was gone. The 14:00only thing that wasn't touched were the two bedrooms upstairs.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Wow.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I was sitting out in the screenings, my wonderful screenings I had put there I would say about thirteen, fourteen years ago and I loved the screen house. All aluminum. It was attached to the house, had a white soft in the back that matched everything. Everything was white aluminum. And I was sitting out there the night of the storm, I had my camera and I'm taking pictures. I just loved my screen house and I'm taking pictures the way the trees blowing and it was quiet. I'm saying, wow, this is kind of eerie. We're going to have a storm. Hold on, we had a storm 1996. There was some water in the bottom and they took care of everything. It was not a big deal. But this time, I went in the house and I went upstairs. I was getting nervous because it was getting very extremely windy. I heard this bang. I was terrified. "What 15:00was that bang?" and everybody's screaming upstairs. There goes the screen house. I go, "What?" I was just outside taking pictures in my screen house before the rain came. It blew down -- the screen house buckled down. The whole roof came down this way and then it collapsed in, and everything in there was brand new. I had just bought all new patio furniture. My son's furniture that he had in the living room was brand new. He had just bought that. I just bought my new living room set, new dinning set, everything was brand new; buried in the water, buried in the water. He raised all his furniture up on crates. He took all my furniture from the living room, putting it into the dining room. It didn't matter. Everything was destroyed and ruined. But it was not the rain that took -- knocked the screen down, the screen house down. It was the wind. 16:00And it took my fences. My stockade fences were floating in the street. When the wind -- when the rain finally came, my stockade fences were floating on the street, but with the winds actually took the screen house down and my fences. They had to come and get us out. We didn't leave. We said it's not going to come that far. It's only maybe going to come up into the living room, that's it. Once that water started coming in, I just said that's it, and three senior citizens came knocking on the door. He said the police told him that this was a safe place because it was two levels. "Come on in, come in. Go sit on…" they were soaking wet. They parked their car in front of my house. Like, we parked my car up the corner around the block that never gets wet up there. My car was buried in the water so we lost my car too. I had just bought prior to that, prior to the storm. These three elderly people came in my house, they were 17:00drenched, and they're going up. And one had Alzheimer's, and I wanted to take her upstairs and give her a clean shirt. "No, no, no," she said. So, I gave her a sweater and she put it on top of her wet clothes. It was two women and one man, and once the rain came, there went in his car. His car went floating in the street, banging into the pole. His car was destroyed. Now, the water is in my kitchen. It was in the dining room up to around over our legs and oh my God, we're calling 911. We're calling the police department. My sister is calling me, "Dot, get out of there." I said, "Cathy, it's too late. My car, we can't get to my car. I don't know what to do." The fire department says, "We'll come and get you." They're yelling from the trucks, "We'll be back to get you." They sent a police and first aid to come and get us in a row boat. 18:00They took the three elderly people out. There had to be like six or eight people that actually put the boat into my house. That's how much water there was. There was me and my husband, the three elderly people, and then my son goes, "Wait for me. Here I come," and he's carrying the cat cage. "Me and Friday is coming." I said, "Okay, that's great." They actually walked us down to the police station and from there, we were just soaking wet. My son managed somehow to get from Middletown. I don't know how he didn’t lose his car, but he found a way to get down, get up to the police station and take us back to his house and that's where we spent the night until we got the hotel, Comfort Inn. It was the last room they had.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Wow.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: But we made a lot of friends there. The girls that works there, and she gave me gifts before I left and everything very, very nice [unintelligible]. I'm sorry, I just want to share it.

19:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: No it's fine. It's perfectly okay. Were there any other preparations that you made apart from lifting stuff up and what your son and nephew did?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: No, I mean not really. It was just anything that was loose in the yard we brought into these greenhouses.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: All right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I'm just saying, when I went home the next morning, I was like I can't believe this. I mean everything I own was destroyed and I'm going, "Where is my big basket?" And we love Halloween. We got married on Halloween and that was our twentieth wedding anniversary this Halloween.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: We spent that in the Comfort Inn. Anyway we had witches like this high -- they were beautiful -- in the dining room and the living room. Decorations all over, Halloween decorations. So, I go around, I gathered 20:00everything, pictures of my grandchildren, I put them in this [wicker] basket and I put them in the dining room, on the floor underneath the dining room table. All my witches were destroyed and I'm looking for the basket and I pulled it out and it was dripping. Then I saw the [unintelligible]. I was so upset. I'm a picture lady. I love to take pictures and the grandkids are like so important to me and I adore them. I have six grandchildren. I have a lot more pictures but -- and we have tons of pictures of the house also. There are pictures of the screen house and everything when it was up and then when it came down. I believe I have some pictures of that.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: It was a big loss for us.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you believe that you had adequate warning about the storm?

21:00

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Yes.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: A good warning?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Adequate warning.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Yes. Absolutely.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: You do.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Not everybody, just us and a few other people. My girlfriend's daughter, niece had to be rescued from a house on Brooke Street. She rented an apartment there and she was in the attic. She climbed up to the attic. They told her to get out but her husband had just back surgery. She only had three animals I believe. The husband was in the living room, wherever he was. I don't even know if he made it up to the attic, but she was in the attic crying for help. They said, "Well, I'm sorry. You were told to get out. You're going to have to wait." Now, I don't know if you've ever saw Brooke Street.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Sounds familiar.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: All the houses on Brooke Street. Down. Gone.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: All on the level. Right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: She was in the house screaming, "Please help me. Please help me. The water is up to my neck," or whatever. The house fell when she was in 22:00it, and it felt on top of another house next to her.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: I heard of that story.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Yes. It fell on to her that the house next to her. My nephew who's a fireman, Mike Murray, he went there with a couple of friends and they rescued her. They found the husband and they carried him out on a door that was floating on the street. All her animals were lost. Thank God, she made it out.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Went down at the police station for a while. They accommodated, blankets and water and anything we wanted.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. After you arrived at your house the next day, what happened? Tell me about that day.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Equal and [unintelligible] remember by the name.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Next morning we made all the notifications with the All-state Homeowners, All-state Flood and we called FEMA. We were assigned claim numbers. 23:00The first person to come to the house was FEMA.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: FEMA. They came right away.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: About maybe three days [unintelligible - 00: 23: 18].

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Yes, very soon after the storm.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Took his pictures, his little drawings, his diagrams, made his notes and everything.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: But he, you know, he said, "You can't stay here."

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Then he said, you know, he said, "All right look, I'll put the report in and whatever. We'll in touch with you." Allstate Homeowners came down about a week and a half after the storm, and he blamed everything on the flood. I said, "No. We were here. We rode out the storm." The shed, the screen room, all the fencing, all that came down before it even started raining.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: My son.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Flood, flood, flood, whatever. It was about five weeks before 24:00the flooding adjustment came to us. The same thing that is [unintelligible] and took his pictures and whatever. It's been in battle ever since, ever since.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: We had like six adjusters, engineers. We had everybody at the house but all engineer go there and to say that it was not safe to live there, it was very dangerous, the foundations of the slab or whatever, and it wasn't safe to live there. My nephew who is a contractor said -- he put yellow tap out all around the back. He said if somebody kicks that back door in, that whole garage and the whole of the room is just going to fall. Everything is just going to fall. He put big signs, "Do not enter." So, it's kind of dangerous. 25:00The Borough Hall gave us a letter and we sent that also to Allstate stating that the house must come down, right?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Yeah, but we [unintelligible] how to use on.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: All right.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Would you like something cold? Are you sure?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: No, I'm fine.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: I bring tea?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, I'll take the green tea.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Green tea?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Yes, thank you.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: [Unintelligible]

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: No, it's okay.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: What happened was, and again, we see this going tomorrow, we're talking about damage. After the adjusters came down, we were talking with different people from Allstate whatever, and Allstate, it was looking at the whole thing as a repair. So, we went -- we spent about almost $7,000. We've 26:00had people come in to clean. Clean out all this spuds, take all the nails, the screws, and [de-mold], spray, disinfect, whatever they had to do. In February, we get this. When I got -- do you want a copy of this? I can give you a copy. Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: [Unintelligible].

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: We got this February 19th. That same day I went to the 27:00Allstate Office. I gave it to the girl, because they had an advocate at the office at the time. She took it and she put it in a file for the floods, put in a file, the homeowner's file. I sent a copy back in FEMA and everybody has ignored it. So, until now.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: He just made a tremendous letter.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: I'll give you a copy of that.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: You get the copy of that too, sent to everybody.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: They chose to ignore it and we're still on this issue about repairing. I had been on the corner of avenue numerous times and I said, what is it that you people do not understand? We have a letter here from the Borough; they are demanding a removal of the structure. The very next sentence 28:00on there says, the township will not issue permits for any repairs to the standing structure.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: It has to come down.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: It was to cover it. They don't care. They don't want to hear it. Anyway, that's an ongoing battle that we are still in the process of fighting with Allstate about this. They sent us a small amount of money for flood insurance. The bank won't even release it because…

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Yeah, they kept it.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: The bank said, "What are you going to do with this? The house has to come down. You can't do anything with this money." So, they won't release it. Then we were told that we could go and apply for a grant, the RREM grant, which we did.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Well, we did the other [one too].

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: We had to get down to city hall to do tons and tons of paperwork.

29:00

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: That was denied.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: It's a grant given through the state. It's up to $150,000 per person. We completed the first two steps of that but, again, my hold; I had a very big problem with that. I even told [unintelligible - 00: 29: 30] about it. I said, "Please don't be offended." I says, "I realize this -- you're trying -- this is trying to be in assistance to the people." I said, "Why? Why are we here? Why have I paid 25 years to Allstate and now we have to go beg for money from outside sources?"

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Begging for money.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Rooms, rents and everything. This fringes on criminal. She 30:00don't know how to understand that. Everybody is in the same boat. The insurance company is alert and the fact of the matter is Allstate has been horrible through this whole thing and FEMA has been more of a hindrance not a help.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: But FEMA is bad now because they stopped knocking the houses down, you know, but other than that, I mean they've been paying for the rent up 'til now. Now, we go to find out. We don't even know yet how much we have to pay for this because it's my daughter's brother-in-law's. He owns this and the people that lived here, I was fortunate, but I feel bad, but I feel bad for him. The people that rented it from him, it be a couple. Do all and that's what he knows and he said, that for again, they've put a lot of pet. They rented from me, so if you go into the third bedroom, everything that man owns is in that 31:00bedroom. They just packed up and left if they're meeting to then like five months. They bit him up out of all his rent. He keeps saying to me, "Don't worry. Don't worry." You fix something out here, the cleaning people come. So, right now, we're just in the process of getting into here, but I told him not to like the 15th, I can't pay you rent. I'll let you know then as soon as I talk to my account, which is his wife. Like they're very nice people. And I had some of my furniture delivered that we bought through the grant that we dealt -- the loan that we took from SPA. We took the minimum what we were allowed to take like 14,000, which was a low percentage rate and we don't have to start paying it back till 2014. And we bought mostly all our furniture that -- because we lost everything, and some of it I had to leave it already. One 32:00bedroom set, and part of my living, all my other furnitures like [unintelligible - 00: 32: 05], my dinette set and [curio] cabinet, that's all that story. FEMA like helps you out with the rent. You have to wait and you have to be recertified every three months and it's a lot of paper work. Oh my God. The grant, the $150,000 grant, and again, it's a long ride to [unintelligible - 00: 32: 30] to here and back and forth. I'm exhausted. And there's two grants. There was one for 10,000, $10,000. They just, they give it to you as long as you don't move out of the county. You could sell your house; you could do whatever you want. You could do whatever you want with that money, okay? The other grant is for 150,000. We went to the two steps with that. Everything 33:00went fine. The third step was the contractor coming down and that the house is wonderful. What you need to get is a letter from your doctor stating what your illnesses are. They want to know because they could build my house according to what I need. I can't climb. I can't walk long periods of time. I need walking aides like a walker or my cane. I can't climb steps. Now, like when I raised my house like four feet, and it was originally going to be a two-story house and I paid $3,600 for the blue prints. I cannot do two-story. Now, what this new grant is going to do, then they show us all different plans that they have and we could choose from that. Also, I got a letter from my doctor and he said, ASAP. Get it down to free holds and put it in a file. My doctor put it in on a letterhead, my heart doctor. Everything that -- it's 2009 when I had my stroke. 34:00That was like a year, the whole left side, so I was in rehab then I went on -- right afterwards, right after I was done therapy in August, the end of August, I went back to work right after Labor Day. I was so happy. Then in 2012 I had congestive heart failure. I [unintelligible - 00: 34: 29]. "Something's wrong with me. I can't catch my breath." I was having shortness of breath and I said to my husband -- he's, "Come on I'll take you to the hospital." I go, "No, I don't want to go." Now, I 'm scared. He says, "Come on." I said, "No." He say, "I'll call 911." "No." Then I sat in the, on my recliner and I was getting scared. Then he goes -- this is before the storm, the December before the storm. 2000, December 2012. And all of a sudden I said to him, "Take me to the hospital quick." He goes "What?" He drops everything in the kitchen. He 35:00was cooking. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. He took me to the hospital. I said, "You take me. Take me to me to Bay Shore immediately." Why I said Bay Shore because Meridian took over and I like Meridian.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Because all I remember I said, "Pull up through the back door where the ambulances are. Just take me there and go in inside and get somebody to get me," because I was scared. And he did that. He went inside and he got the attendants to come out and take me in. That's all I know is before I knew it they were ripping my clothes off, putting IVs in me and then I was out. And I was intubated and my kids -- my niece told me there was thirty-seven people in the parking lot. They had Dunkin Donuts, big containers drinking coffee. Later 36:00on when I woke up my daughter is holding my hand, everybody's crying, and I can't talk because -- they didn't believe that I woke up, that I was alive. And congestive heart failure, and they found that I also have COPD. They put everything in the letter and I'm so happy. My kids were there, and later on the next day I was laughing and my kid sister was sitting there and she goes, "Do you think this is funny?" I go, "Excuse me?" "If you think this is funny…" hold on, I'm only laughing. She said, "Do you know how sick you are?" She was crying. I said, "Why?" She says "Dot, you almost died. You were dying." My son and my daughter and my husband they all stayed overnight in the hospital with me while I was unconscious. The drug that Michael Jackson died on, that's 37:00what that they gave me that knocked me out.

They put me to sleep. They couldn't get me out of it and they had to get these tubes down my throat, and my son said it was awful. I was fighting them. I was like awake but not awake under that drug. I wasn't in the hospital that long believe or not. When I came home I was scared. I kept thinking, "Am I going to have a heart attack, am I going to have a heart attack?" It's not that kind of congestive heart failure. It just happened. You're full of salt, you fill up with water and it happens. But thank God, you know. I just went to him the other day, he took another EKG. A wonderful doctor. [Unintelligible - 00: 37: 51]. I keep butting in when he should be talking.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: It's okay. How was…?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: He's probably getting very annoyed right now because I never 38:00know when to shut up.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: What was the scene, the mood of the community when you returned to the home?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Very somber. Oh my God, like so many people. The people that lived next door to me, Mac and Caroline, they probably own their house out right. They own a few homes. They never ever, ever, ever had that kind of water ever. The last time when I got flooded they didn't get a drop of water in their basement. This time they lost everything right up to their first floor and Caroline goes -- Caroline and Mac, they weren't home. They evacuated and they came in and they saved everything. They always had these big sales, you know, and she was a designer. She designs for parties, make balloons and sell Easter Baskets every Easter. Tables would be lined up outside with everything she made for children and she would sell all this stuff. Everything in that 39:00whole entire basement was gone. The woman across the street from me, Lettie, directly across the street, 618, 619, I think. She's right across the street next door to Sheryl. The house right near the creek.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Yes.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I remember that house it was a little bungalow like this small. Somebody bought it from the owner -- well, he inherited. He inherited the house from the old couple that lived there. He turned that house into this big house that Lettie lived in. He added on the back. He built it up and he made it beautiful, Lettie's house. That's all I know is she only got water in her basement, but every time I went down Borough Hall she was there. She was with FEMA. She was with the SBA people. She was -- every time I was there Lettie was there. I don't know why. Maybe they -- she had get an attorney she 40:00said, because I think the flood insurance maybe was giving her a hard time. But everybody was very sad, but everybody was very helpful. We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Borough Hall for how long, until March?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Probably yeah.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Because we were here every day, meetings, go into Borough Hall, getting this, getting that, filling out the paperwork. Every day we had to be there, all right. Be at my door because now we have to go to Borough Hall, we have to go to Borough Hall. Every minute we're at Borough Hall, but every day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. And if you couldn't eat it there, they wrapped it up and you took it to go. They had barbeques; they had special days where they would just give everything away. Unbelievable.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. So, how did you start to clean up your home?

41:00

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Everything moved in to the pod, that's in my yard. Now you could see it after all the grass is gone. Everything that was in my attic was the only thing that I really salvaged, and most of course is Christmas, all that decorations, family albums and my daughter's stuff. Finally she gets it. My son's stuff finally he gets his junk. Everybody gets their junk out of my attic. Everything was put into the pod and everything that was in my house except for my clothes that were in my dresser. It was from 1964 so the furniture it's very good furniture. So, the drawers inside didn't smell. The rest of my furniture, all my comforters, even the sheets in my closet, everything smelled like mold, it smelled like rain. It was horrible. Everything was thrown in the garbage. We lost everything in the house except 42:00for a couple of things upstairs I was able to save. Mostly everything, we put everything in the pod and of course we paid $200 a month for about ten months now. About ten months we had the pod.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: How did you and the community cope with everything that was going on?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I think everybody felt the same way I did about the insurance not giving enough. Next door the woman was very embarrassed because she was down at the Borough Hall and she wanted to get a few supplies that they had; water, whatever. They were giving everything away. Her husband was there and they never ever. They're always there to help you. She would never look for anything from anybody Caroline, and she was crying. I saw her crying and I said, "What's wrong Caroline?" "I will never, ever come back to this place 43:00again." I go, "What's wrong?" She goes, "I was getting some water," or whatever, whatever happened. And I said, "And?" And somebody said to her, "You're back again. Didn't you get enough? What are you getting that for, your neighbor?" I said, "Are you kidding me?" Now I need to know. I want to know who did this. Now, look at me, I'm like ready to yell and scream. I felt sorry for her. I mean she didn't want to do this. She didn't want to go ask for water. She lost everything. Her heating system, everything that was in that basement was destroyed or gone. Maybe upstairs was okay but she lost a lot. Just like Lettie too. People have stuff in their basement. I didn't have a basement but I lost my whole bottom floor, two floors. My niece too gave up and moved away. My niece was flooded her basement and part of her back bedroom, but she just walked away. She couldn't afford her mortgage anymore and the 44:00insurance wasn't helping her so she said, "Goodbye." She gave up and walked away and left her mortgage. Most people were very unhappy mostly with the insurance. And I made a lot of friends in FEMA. My girlfriend Joy, [unintelligible - 00: 44: 20] wonderful. She was my girlfriend and she goes, "I got to tell you something." She's always telling me jokes. I bought her a beautiful present because she was leaving. Her name is Joy and I found something and she said, "Oh, you're going to love these tulips in Florida." She loved it in my garden. It was something that said 'joy' on it.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Yes.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I bought it for her and I bought boxes of candy for everybody in FEMA, and SPA, everybody that helped us, and Joy gave me her cellphone number to call her. She works with FEMA. A very, very nice woman, very, very nice. But I turn around; I've seen people that I know. Like this couple that I know 45:00and like I'm not very fond of them. Of course, I shouldn't say that. They lost their home and everything in it, and they had to be raise and I see how they're -- every day with her husband and I go, "She can't hide from me now." And people, they are so uppity- uppity yet you're sitting in the same boat and every line that you would see like there was a Chinese? Were they Chinese, hon, the people that came to Union Beach to school?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Thailand.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Thailand? Came from Thailand? We were waiting outside. My niece who walked away from her home, this is way before she walked away, [unintelligible - 00: 45: 47]. She said, giving out gifts if it sound at Memorial School. Because her house was directly across from Memorial School. Memorial School got destroyed. The kids were at a school until the school 46:00closed in June. They went back like a week before the school closed. She said, "Come down." We waited out. My husband wouldn't wait, but I waited in the cold, freezing cold to see what they were giving out. When you got in there, you're sitting in this big auditorium; I go "Oh my God, all these people." And they would let like ten, twenty at a time and I can't stand that long. And I got to sit and I have my cane and, "Judy, I can't stand much longer." They were incredible. I sent them tons of thank you cards. I got a banking side that I got from them and I keep putting money in there. This is how this organization started like women in 1964, three or four women got together and they started making these banks, and that's how they started helping people. And this is what he said to us before we left, "This is what you do with this bank. When 47:00you look at and you think of us and think about the women who started this organization and how we helped you." And you put some money in there. It's their [unintelligible - 00: 47: 12]. I've been putting money in it every day, "And when it's full you can send it back to us and we'll give it to somebody in need." Each family got $600 and gift cards. I said, "What?" And these are people from another country. And they had a speech and they had a screen of movies. They didn't give us food, but we didn't need it. And you went through like one process then the next table, then the next table, and they were all Thailand people. We got to talking to them and they were like really friendly, and when you get to the fourth table, no something's wrong here. This guy speaks English and the first thing he ask you, "What's your FEMA number?" I go, "Oh-oh. Now, that's all he has to do is put my FEMA number and he knows everything about me." And sure enough he's there and seeing that you belong there.

48:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Our name was on the list and whatever and we live in Union Beach. Then when you got to the end, she's typing away and typing away, the last woman on the computer, then she goes, "Here you go." And then there's a gentleman on the end and he entered this big box. I go, "What's that?" "This is a gift for you." Are you kidding me? There was a blanket, a beautiful blanket from them. I have it all saved, it's all in the pod. A bank, Chinese -- a box of Chinese noodles that they make that are very special. All kinds of sorts of things inside that box, they gave to us as a gift. I wonder where they -- all the people that I've helped, you know, Union Beach and Union Beach is only 1.8 square miles. I used to walk this whole beach with my sister when I 49:00first moved here. I can't do it now. We used to walk from one end to the other all the way around the beach, but I gained all my weight after Sandy. Eating out, eating food wherever you could go in Union Beach, eating hotdogs and hamburgers and I gained a ton of weight.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did you make any contributions to helping others out while the -- during the storm or even after?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Only letting them to come in. Like I said, we didn't live here. I grew up in West [Moffatt]. When we come down it was like to see the kids, my grandchildren, we're down to Borough Hall, but I always like to send thank you cards out and to volunteer for anything, I can't because I can't do anything physical.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: [Unintelligible - 00: 49: 55] that's always driving me mental when talking.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did you get any other aid from both local and government aid?

50:00

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: No, but the SPA the $10,000.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Any local or religious communities.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Yes, yes. The church gave us a donation. It's right next to the Holy Family church. That's the name of the church right there.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: They helped us and we got a couple of gift cards. I think the power hold from different places like say Target donated something and not [unintelligible - 00: 50: 32] or Target or another -- the other -- Walmart. We got a Walmart gift card, and one day a woman stopped by my house and said, "Are you Dorothy [Peduci]?" And I was there cleaning something out of my house. I says, "Yes." She, "I've been looking all over Union Beach for you." I said, "You have? Why?" "It's because somebody told me about you that you lost your home." I said, "Yes, I did." Then she goes, "Oh my God, I'm so sorry." So she 51:00gets out of the car and she hands me an envelope of cash and I think it was $70 or $110 -- I can't remember -- and two gift cards. I go, "Oh my God. Thank you so much." "I've been looking all over for you to give you this." I said, "Thank you so much." She's really -- I'm thinking that we're going to [unintelligible - 00: 51: 25], but I never saw her again. So, I think that's what we're going to do. I don't live around here, but I'm still like adopting people instead of just giving a donation. Everybody get together and adopt one family. But I never heard from her again.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: The $10,000 grant that they were giving to me, just put all the information. The same day we filled out for the $150,000, my husband gets a phone call. "We were denied." I go, "What?" "What do you mean? They denied us the 10,000? You're kidding me right?" No. Guess what? My husband's name 52:00is not on the deed. My ex-husband's name was on the deed, that particular one from 1988 when we bought the house. Are you kidding me? No. We got divorced in 1992. My husband gave me the house so afterwards his name came off the deed. I have all the papers home. Divorce papers, papers from the court, I had everything. Then in 19 -- what year? 1995 when we refinanced?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: '98.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: '98, my husband's name is on the deed so I sent that all to them.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: They even said, "Maybe you weren't even living there." "What?" They said to my husband, "Were you living there?" He said, "Of course, since 1992." So, his name -- it's in appeals right now, but yes. Then they went there. They said, "It looks pretty good to us." They called the [unintelligible - 00: 52: 58] and it's going through the process. But I know 53:00people that got it like right away, because we -- they call them up and say, "Come and pick up your check. Your check is here." Then you go to free health, there's a guy that stays on the phone. That's all he does is call people.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you believe that New Jersey did everything that they could to prepare for this storm or any storm of this magnitude?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I don't think New Jersey, especially this part of New Jersey ever expected to have anything like this. This is the first time ever. I've got some [unintelligible - 00: 53: 38] but not like this. I mean there were houses that [Jacob Hubbs] of course, she's all over the news all the time. That was the third time her restaurant got destroyed. This time it was like just swiped away, knocked down, torn away. She reopened again somewhere else. Everybody was so -- if you go around at night time a lot of darkness. Many, 54:00many people not living here yet, still living in apartments. Some people I know have raised their homes already and a lot of people don't have the money to do so. The other 50 that has asbestos in it, we still thought FEMA was going to knock them down, then we were told that FEMA is not doing it. But they got somebody to knock them down but we're going to have to pay for the dumpsters and for the removal. So, of course it's anywhere around $1,800.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: To answer your original question, yeah, I think they did everything they could.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: You do?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I told you to speak up more.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, so you believe that there were enough flood gates and enough dunes and everything?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: I think -- like I said, I just don't think that anybody was prepared for a magnitude of the storm, but they did what they could.

55:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right. Okay, that's fine. Is there anything that you think could have been done differently?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I always said they could do better [unintelligible - 00: 55: 15] the creeks, but I know that people just like throwing garbage in there, and they did work on the creeks for a while. This big round sewer pipes they put [unintelligible - 00: 55: 28] on. They broke down [unintelligible - 00: 55: 29] for a long time. It didn't stop the…

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: My biggest problem with the state is not prior to the storm, it's after the storm.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: No, I saw Governor Christie down in by the [unintelligible - 00: 55: 49]. I was there for one of his meetings and my son is kind of friendly with him. My son is president of a Middle Town board of education, my son.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: He's been at a few meetings with Governor Christie. I said, 56:00"Can you talk to him and tell me him to help your mother?" He goes, "No. I can't do that." He said, "Everybody is in the same boat." And he said, "I can't. That's political. I can't do that." He's -- and the politicians [unintelligible - 00: 56: 19].

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you think the media adequately portrayed what was going on in the area or was it sensationalized?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I think certain people.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: I didn't think it was sensationalized.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: What do you mean sensationalized?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Blown out of proportion.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Some people could have…

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: I don't think so.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: You want to take a look at my house I'll show you.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. My next question which you started to talk about was what do you feel about Obama and Christie making their appearance in the area?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I think that was a great thing that Obama came to Union Beach. 57:00If anybody else has anything to say, [unintelligible - 00: 57: 06]. I thought it was a good thing that he showed up in this little town of Union Beach. What do you think?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: It was good, okay. Did it resolve anything? No. But it was good. It was a good gesture. I thought it was a nice thing to do. But again, I'm very cynical right now so don't mind me. I mean after ten months of this I'm a little tired.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: What we say often is that all the beaches are fixed; everybody can go to the beach. They can go on the boardwalk. Everything is done. What about me? What about my home? We were talking to a woman yesterday in Philly, and she was saying that [Manahock], is it [Manahock] or [Malavan]? They had 58:00million dollar homes wiped away. Half the houses are in the water. What are these people going to do? FEMA does nothing. Their insurance don't cover this. The houses are literally knocked into the water. I mean they're devastated. The people that live around there, if you look and take around, look at the town in Union Beach, a lot of them are just full of bungalows, you know. And it was a short -- my husband's mother used to come here. My mother-in-law used to come here as a young girl and she used to rent. And she'd come here during the summer and rent like a bungalow. This is what people did years ago down here. We go to Kingsburg water. I still love Kingsburg. I actually went down -- that was one of the only places I went to because I was devastated that Kingsburg boardwalk, the rides, the amusements, the arcades, were all washed away. I was 59:00so upset over it. I took my kids there. My oldest is 47 years old and I took them there as babies. I love Kingsburg, I love their French fries. They're open again and running, but my husband was saying, all the way down the shore, Toms River or Seaside Heights, while with the rent. He said, "All these beaches are open and running, all their businesses are fixed and there's people that don't have a home yet." Me and a lot of other people in Union Beach don't have a home, and I feel sorry for them.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did your opinion of Christie change after you see how he was handling the situation?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: No. I don't think he could do everything. I don't think Governor Christie can do everything. He does his best to try to put things where they belong and try to do the best as he can. If the beaches opened before I got a home, that's not his fault. He could only do -- I think he could 60:00only do what he can do, but he's very tough. He's a tough man and I always believed in him and I thought he would be maybe a good president the next time. We'll see what happens.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Has the storm shifted your environmental views in any way? Does it make you feel like you want to move out of the area?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Go ahead say it. I don't care.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: It didn't take the storm to do that.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: No, he's been wanting to, he hates Union Beach.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I'm sixty-nine years old. What am I going to do? My life is there. My kids are there.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: In all honesty, the biggest problem is that it's just too damn expensive to stay in this state.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: It's very expensive.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: It's getting impossible.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Taxes are high, everything is high.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: The taxes are outrageous. Insurances are outrageous. Everything has just got out of hand and there's no really light at the end of 61:00the tunnel. And [unintelligible - 01: 01: 06] with the storm for a while.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: As rhetorical as this question may be, have things returned to normal, will they ever return to normal or will it become a new normal?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: It'll be new normal.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: New normal. I want -- like this to me is like, my God, I'm going to sleep alone in the house but nobody else here? There's not going to be anybody around, are you kidding me? Like this to me is like wonderful. And my husband it's not a big deal. I go, what? It's the same thing, you know. We're going to be packing up and moving again. So what? I don't care if it's only for six months. We're alone. We have our own bedroom. We have a kitchen. We have a living room. We have our TV turned back on as of Monday. Yeah, I'm 62:00happy and moving back into Union Beach in that neighborhood, yes. I wanted my house back on that corner the ways to get up the steps into one family because I cannot climb up two flights. But I want to be back in that spot again.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Are you still making payments to your home? Are there any bills that you're still paying?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Never stops. I pay everything.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you still pay insurance?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: They take…

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: We pay the mortgage.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Yes, and my mortgage and…

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: And the insurance.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: $1,800 a month from my…

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: It never stopped.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: …house insurance. I mean my home -- my mortgage and my equity loan is like $1,800 a month. That -- the 1440 comes right out of my checking account every month.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Water, light…?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: No. No, no, no.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Gas.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Water, gas, electric, and my cable, everything has been turned off completely and you had to get all this done before your name gets put on the 63:00list so you have to get knocked down. Everything has -- they have to come to your house and have to get in the ground, shut off your gas and do all the big major work, which we had done already. But all my other bills, yes. My cellphones and my charge accounts and everything else I have in my name like that. We spent a lot of money on gas, gas and tolls, and my car payments, car insurance.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: The car that got lost already?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: That's done and washed away, but we bought another one.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Yup. We rented a car for almost a month and then we rent on another Chevy. Now, we still a car payment, car insurance, homeowners insurance, flood insurance. We have all those bills that we still pay.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: After everything that happened, then the effort that the community put, did it give you a new view, a new outlook on the community?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: No. I don't know.

64:00

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: I wouldn't say on the community I mean as far as the populous of it, but my outlook toward the moral itself is it's very positive. I think that they did a lot to help us. They did everything they could to try to help the people there that had a lot of damage or washed up homes. And as far as civilian volunteers and material and people that…

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Gave to the church.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: They were terrific, Borough was.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: And they call you. Every time there is something to be done or they have something for us, they call us. They call my husband's phone and say, "This is in, that's in, your name is on the list." Or, "Come down and fill out this paper. You're getting a gift card." They have his number and 65:00[unintelligible - 01: 05: 05]. The card was for Union Beach, so now even if it's not sent personally, we get everything that's going on in Union Beach. It's a good thing. I like it here. I think I like it here more because my kids are close by. My son is better now after twenty years and my children, you know, [unintelligible - 01: 05: 33] children, they're all up in West [Moffatt] but we've been going and staying out there since, oh my God, for a long time. Since February and March, we're renting up there?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: December.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: December, that's how long we we're staying up in West [Moffatt] renting up there and it's 80 miles back and forth. I've been seeing them and Savannah, my granddaughter, [Kimmy's][unintelligible - 01: 05: 57] little girl and she just loves me to death. She's a beautiful little girl. 66:00She's right on the table behind Joe [unintelligible - 01: 06: 04], but we got very attached, and I see them more often now. And then I have a place to stay right now. I'm going to be seeing them more coming down this way more, which is a good thing. But I'm attached to my family member and I'm going to see them a little more.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you think the storm had an impact on the presidential election?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Will it have an impact on?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did it?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: No, did it?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did it the one -- did the election?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I don't know. I don't think so. No, I don't think so. Do you?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: If it did it was probably in a positive way.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Okay.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: I don't think it hurt the people actually.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. I mean when thinking of the question where you're 67:00saying considering the fact that a lot of people, when the election came around a lot of people didn't have power, were just getting back power. So, we're saying do you think that it had an impact that way.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: I see what you mean physically?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right. Even the president making his appearance.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: No. I have no idea.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: No, that's what I mean. I think as far as psychologically, I think the opinion, it was probably in a positive sense, okay. Physically, I probably did [unintelligible - 01: 07: 35] because people [unintelligible - 01: 07: 38] still go. Maybe they had to go out of their district or go somewhere else, and that probably hindered people maybe with disabilities or all the people or something like that. But as far as the thinking goes, I don't think so. I think it was probably positive.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you think that there will be an impact to the governor 68:00election that's coming up based on…?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: I don't know. I don't know. I think Christie, the way he's been acting I think he has a pretty good shot of getting in. This is the way I'm thinking. I mean I could be wrong. I'm not very political and I don't like to get in the political talking mojo. Anything about the church or anything like that I try to stay away from.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: I don't think that the -- if you want to isolate the storm itself as having an impact on, I think again that would be positive. There was a couple of things after that that he did maybe dropped him a few points, but I don't think of that much.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. All right

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: He goes around. He's all around town, Christie is. He makes his rounds. So did Obama. He's been all over. I can't say that he hasn't.

69:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Great.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: He's watching -- keeping his eyeballs on this Syria thing now, right? All those people being poisoned, those babies. Did you see them lined up? That was horrible.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: If you can give a word of advice from one homeowner who's lost everything to another homeowner in Oklahoma, in [unintelligible - 01: 09: 29] Oklahoma from the tornado, what's the word of advice that you could share?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: We were willing to evacuate. Believe, hope and stay home. Don't leave town. Don't leave home. Rebuild, start again. That's how I feel.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Get a good lawyer from Philadelphia.

70:00

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: The only reason he wants to go to Philly to live.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: All kidding aside. That's a good question, really. It really is a good question. I don't know. I really wouldn't know what to say. It would be probably…

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: See he sounded [unintelligible - 01: 10: 22].

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Probably to take advantage of anything that's being offered and don't rely on your insurance.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Exactly. Exactly. They don't want to give you anything. An advocate that came here…

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Yeah, and just start that from the get go.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: …from Allstate and we were so happy that she was there, because she like was, "Oh no. I'm going to call them right now." And she stuck up for us kind of, and like, "Oh no." She's, "Allstate has to put your house back the way it was," she said. Because when she looked at our policy, she had 71:00more than enough coverage. They have to put everything back for you the way it was before this happened. Thank you so much. Now what am I thinking? Not so, not so. They don't do it and they said, and there was just a piece in the paper, not many people got more, who got more than $58,000 total for their homes. That is nothing compared to what people owe on their homes. A friend of my -- a cousin of my nephews, are they kidding me? I'm paying my mortgage, I'm paying this, I'm paying that, I'm paying everything. I'm ready to walk away from my house. Is he serious? Because he has this big mortgage and he says, what's he going to do? He doesn't want to leave his house, but how is he going to fix it. A lot of people feel the same way.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Just wrapping up, if you can give a message or tell 72:00the legacy of the storm, what would that be?

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: It was a nightmare to me. To me it was like living in a nightmare during the storm and after the storm. I felt like we had no home, no place to go. I felt like we're living out of a car, and this what we've been saying all along. Even though we have here and there and here and there to go, we feel like we have nothing, like we're constantly in our cars. I don't know. What would you say [unintelligible - 01: 12: 46]? Come on. You're better with words than I am.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Probably the only thing that I would say is that heed the warnings. When they tell you it's going to be bad, you get out and go.

73:00

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: The next time, okay. It was kind of scary getting in that boat.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: I remember.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Yeah, it was very scary. Did you give Trudi a copy of that letter?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Yeah.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: There was --- he wrote a nice letter. It was my [unintelligible - 01: 13: 21].

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: I could have given you this letter when you came in and it would have avoided all this.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: And said, "Here read this," and you don't even have to stay and listen to anything

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: But if you want to take a copy.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: He wrote a good letter.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Is there anything else you want to share that I might have missed?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: No.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: No.

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: This is actually a letter that I made up. This was written out of desperation.

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: But it's being sent all. Right, hon?

ROBERT GAJEWSKI: Yeah, that's all -- there's all ccs on here, but again if you want it for this record, here then you can take this copy.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Thank you. Okay.

74:00

DOROTHY GAJEWSKI: Right now I'm happy because I'm going back to work, [unintelligible - 01: 14: 04] work today, yes, which is exactly I want [unintelligible - 01: 14: 09] how's everything. I said, well, we're going to rent a house in Middletown come the 15th, so. And I heard that Patty's back to work and I'd like to be her [unintelligible - 01: 14: 21], but she doesn't want to [unintelligible - 01: 14: 23]. What about Bob? He thinks that she's being more available for the contractor and stuff. So, I said [unintelligible - 01: 14: 35].

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. /AT/rj/cw/

0:00 - Interview Introduction

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:My name is Trudi-Ann Lawrence. Today is August 28th.

Segment Synopsis: An introduction to the interview with Dorothy Gajewski and Dorothy Gajewski.

Keywords:

Subjects:

0:04 - Brief Biography

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Can you state your name?

Segment Synopsis: Dorothy discusses how she came to live to Union Beach with her sisters. She also talks about how it was being born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Keywords: Bedrooms; Cost; Dining room; Doors; Ethnicity; Floors; Garage; Home; House; Jersey City; Lived; Moved; Neighborhood; Rooms; Sister; Son; Union Beach; Window

Subjects:


GPS: Union Beach, Nj.
Map Coordinates: 40.446366, -74.179400

5:49 - The Gajewski's household

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Right. Okay. Tell me who makes up your family and who lived in a home with you?

Segment Synopsis: Dorothy discloses who of her family had lived with her in the duration of her owning her home in Union Beach. She also states that she was on unemployment for a while after Hurricane Sandy hit.

Keywords: Apartment; Borough Hall; Cops; Daughters; Family; FEMA; Home; Hotels; House; Middletown; Mom; Money; Night; Occupation; Renting; Sandy; Town; Volunteers

Subjects:

8:41 - Living in New Jersey

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Right. Okay. What do you like about living in New Jersey?

Segment Synopsis: Dorothy tells about the school in Union Beach which she has heard good things about from her nieces and nephews. She also talks about the help that the community, churches, and organizations such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army had provided.

Keywords: Bedrooms; Borough Hall; Buses; Children; Church; Community; Country; Doors; Driving; Economic; FEMA; Friends; Help; House; Inspection; Insurance companies; Jersey City; Lived; New Jersey; Red Cross; Sandy; School; Teacher; Town; Union Beach; Work

Subjects:

12:21 - First word of the storm

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Okay, can you tell me about when you first heard the storm was coming?

Segment Synopsis: Robert describes the lack of damages he discovered when he came back home after being evacuated for Hurricane Irene. He also talks about how they planned to stick through Hurricane Sandy despite the evacuation warnings.

Keywords: Basement; Boats; Car; Cats; Destroyed; Dining room; Evacuate; Fire department; First thoughts; Floors; Friends; Furniture; Garage; Hotels; House; Hurricane Irene; Irene; Lost; Middletown; Night; Police; Police station; Rain; Safe; Son; Storm; Street; Tree; Water; Windy

Subjects:

19:04 - Preparations for the storm

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:No it's fine. It's perfectly okay. Were there any other preparations that you made apart from lifting stuff up and what your son and nephew did?

Segment Synopsis: Dorothy describes spending hers and Robert's twentieth wedding anniversary in the Comfort Inn after leaving their home. She also tells a story about a her friend's niece whom did not take the warnings seriously and ended up in the attic of her apartment calling for help during the storm.

Keywords: Adequate warning; Apartment; Attics; Blankets; Daughters; Destroyed; Dining room; Doors; Fireman; Floors; Friends; Halloween; House; Morning; Pictures; Police station; Preparations; Son; Water

Subjects:

22:39 - Next day

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Okay. After you arrived at your house the next day, what happened? Tell me about that day.

Segment Synopsis: Robert describes the process they went through calling organizations for support the day after the storm. After having adjusters come to the house, they were told that the house had to get knocked down.

Keywords: Adjuster; After the storm; Borough Hall; Clean; Contractors; Damage; FEMA; Flood; Flood insurance; Garage; House; Money; Morning; Office; Paperwork; Pictures; Rain; Safe; Storm

Subjects:

29:57 - Opinion on response from FEMA and insurance company

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Begging for money.

Segment Synopsis: Robert discusses the lack of help they received when looking to FEMA and his insurance company. Dorothy describes that she cannot climb stairs nor have a two-story house because of her illness and her issues with that while seeking help.

Keywords: Bayshore; Bedrooms; Before the storm; Boats; Clean; Contractors; Cook; Daughters; FEMA; Fortunate; Furniture; House; Houses; Insurance companies; Kids; Lived; Money; Paperwork; Renting; Rooms; Son; Water

Subjects:

34:01 - Dorothy's congestive heart failure

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Everything that -- it's 2009 when I had my stroke.

Segment Synopsis: Dorothy describes her experience with her heart failure years before the storm. In that same hospital visit, she also found out she has COPD.

Keywords: Bayshore; Before the storm; Cook; Daughters; Doors; Kids; Sister; Son; Work

Subjects:

38:03 - Mood of community

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:What was the scene, the mood of the community when you returned to the home?

Segment Synopsis: Dorothy describes how sad residents in her community were after seeing the damage from Hurricane Sandy. She also talks about how often people were at Borough Hall which provided food for those in need.

Keywords: Basement; Borough Hall; Children; Community; Dinner; Doors; Evacuate; FEMA; Flood; Flood insurance; Floors; Home; House; Lived; Mood; Outside; Paperwork; Scene; Water

Subjects:

40:55 - Clean up / community coping

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Okay. So, how did you start to clean up your home?

Segment Synopsis: Dorothy talks about renting a pod for all of her belongings and keepsakes. She also describes how the community wanted more form their insurance companies.

Keywords: Basement; Bedrooms; Borough Hall; Clean up; Community; Cope; Destroyed; Flood; Floors; Furniture; Garbage; Help; Home; Horrible; House; Insurance; Mortgage; Moved; Neighbors; Supplies; Water

Subjects:

44:41 - Gift cards and money

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:I bought it for her and I bought boxes of candy for everybody in FEMA, and SPA, everybody that helped us, and Joy gave me her cellphone number to call her.

Segment Synopsis: Dorothy talks about how one of the schools were closed until June. She also discusses how people from overseas send up to $600 and gift cards to each family in need.

Keywords: Beach; Blankets; Boats; Cell phones; Country; Destroyed; Family; FEMA; Food; Helped; Helping; Home; House; Kids; Lost; Money; Moved; Organization; Outside; School; Sister; Union Beach

Subjects:

49:21 - Contributions

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Did you make any contributions to helping others out while the -- during the storm or even after?

Segment Synopsis: Dorothy describes how they let those in need in her home after the storm. She also talks about the church in which gave her a donation and the many gift cards she received.

Keywords: Aid; Borough Hall; Car; Church; Clean; Contributors; Donation; Family; Helped; Helping; Home; House; Information; Kids; Lived; Papers; Phone; Power; Religious communities; Storm; Target; Union Beach; Volunteer; Walmart

Subjects:

53:14 - New Jersey's preparations

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Do you believe that New Jersey did everything that they could to prepare for this storm or any storm of this magnitude?

Segment Synopsis: Dorothy and Robert Gajewksi discuss the lack of preparations of New Jersey for the storm. They believe this because no one expected a storm of this magnitude.

Keywords: After the storm; Apartment; Boats; Destroyed; Dunes; FEMA; Floodgates; Garbage; Governor Christie; Home; Houses; Magnitude; Middletown; Money; New Jersey; News; Night; Prepare; Prepared; Storm; Work

Subjects:

56:19 - Media portrayal

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Do you think the media adequately portrayed what was going on in the area or was it sensationalized?

Segment Synopsis: Both Robert and Dorothy discuss how they believe it was a good idea for President Obama to make his appearance in Union Beach. Dorothy also states that her opinion on Governor Christie had not changed after his role in Hurricane Sandy relief.

Keywords: Adequate; Appearance; Area; Christie; House; Media; Obama; Sensationalized; Union Beach

Subjects:

60:15 - Environmental views / new normal

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Has the storm shifted your environmental views in any way? Does it make you feel like you want to move out of the area?

Segment Synopsis: Both Dorothy and Robert talk about how much more expensive it is to keep living in New Jersey. Dorothy also talks about how it is to still be making payments to her home while trying to maintain her bills.

Keywords: Area; Car; Cell phones; Church; Community; Damage; Electricity; Environment; Family; Flood insurance; Gas; Help; Home; House; Insurance; Kids; Lights; Lost; Money; Mortgage; Moved; Neighborhood; New normal; Normal; Outlook; Papers; Phone; Sleep; Son; State; Storm; Taxes; TV; Union Beach; Water

Subjects:

66:20 - Impact of the storm on the election

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Do you think the storm had an impact on the presidential election?

Segment Synopsis: Robert describes that he felt like not much of an impact was made on the presidential election and if there were any impact it was most likely a positive one. As for the governor, they also feel like the appearance made would positively impact the election.

Keywords: Appearance; Christie; Election; Governor; horrible; Impacting; Obama; Political; Power; Presidential campaign; Storm; Town

Subjects:

71:57 - Legacy of the storm

Play segmentSegment link

Partial Transcript:Okay. Just wrapping up, if you can give a message or tell the legacy of the storm, what would that be?

Segment Synopsis: Dorothy discusses feeling like she has no place to go after the storm. Robert adds that it is important to listen to the warnings given.

Keywords: Cars; Contractors; Home; Legacy; Message; Middletown; Storm; Warnings; Work

Subjects:


GPS: Middletown, Nj.
Map Coordinates: 40.396033, -74.085814
Search This Index
SearchClear