0:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: My name is TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE, today is September third, and I am at the Bayshore Community Center. Can you state your name?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Henrietta Williams.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, and your age if you don't mind sharing?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Seventy-one.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: All right. How long have you lived in the area?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Since 1977.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, and how long have you lived in your home?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: That's how long.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Do you mind sharing the price of the house when you purchased it?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Excuse me?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you mind sharing the price of the house when you purchased it?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: It was about $24,000.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. And how many rooms are in the home?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: About six.

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

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Because when I moved into the home, my mother was with me, and she was elderly, and it was easier for her because I worked in New York City.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: And it was easier for her to get around to stores if she had 1:00to get something, when I wasn't home. Also, the fact the senior center used to come and pick her up with the bus, and bring her up here, and she would spend time up here at the center.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. So, did you live anywhere else prior to Keansburg?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: I lived in Middletown for about three years, and then prior to that I lived in the Bronx.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. So, who lives in the home with you now?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: My dog.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: All right. Do you have a current occupation, or what was your prior occupation?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: The only thing is I come to the center and I teach arts and crafts.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. So, what do you like about living in New Jersey, living in the area?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Well, I like the privacy of my own home. I don't have to 2:00worry about anyone living above me or below me. And, I mean, your biggest fear in living in apartments is, are the people going to be as careful as you are? You know, you hear of it often, about fires and stuff like that. And this way I have control of it, because I'm very careful about things. Even during the storm I was very careful.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. So, do you have any other involvement in the community, apart from teaching arts and crafts at the senior center?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: No, the only other thing is that I go to a local gym.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Oh. Okay.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: I go to water aerobics in the gym over in Middletown.

3:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, nice. So can you tell me about when you first heard the storm was coming? What did you expect?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Well first, I originally packed a bag with all my information in it, and with some clothes and stuff, and then some things for my dog and stuff, to evacuate. And then I decided that I didn't want to evacuate, and my whole family was very upset with me, because of the fact that I didn't evacuate. And, I mean, I was hoping, because I was thinking about the storm prior, and I did evacuate, and yet it wasn't as bad as predicted. So, I was thinking the same thing-- it was going to be the same thing over again. So I 4:00didn't evacuate. Matter of fact, my entire block did not evacuate.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: You know, so we all were there, for one another.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right. So, can you tell me about the first day of the storm? What was the weather like? Anything that you experienced?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Well, what happened to me was, because of the wind and stuff and where I'm situated, my house, I had an attic fan that the storm actually sucked the attic fan out of the house. So, and then the next day, after the storm, that was when I discovered the fan was gone, and my neighbor climbed up to my roof and he covered it with the plastic and so no rain would come into the 5:00house. I went around, checked things around, to see if there was anything other than, you know, wind, leaves, and all. They were all over, but my neighbor's wall-- they used to have a wall separating their backyard and mine, the whole wall was in my backyard. It just collapsed with the-- that's how bad the wind came through that parts of my house. And the one thing I was very afraid of was, I was trying to get in touch with people I knew to see if they had room in their refrigerator, because I'm a diabetic, and my medicine had to be on ice or something. The sister came to the block, and she saw me out in front of my 6:00house, and she asked, was there anything I needed, and I said, "I need ice for my medication." And then my other medication, which also had to be on ice, I was able to get in touch with my nephew, who had a generator, and put my medicine into his refrigerator for me, because we were talking about, oh the thousands of dollars of medicine. You know, so I had to get it out of the house, that was my biggest concern. The rest was just, you know, trying to keep yourself dry and get whatever was in the freezer that you could get to somebody's house and save it. I threw a lot of the stuff that was in the freezer away.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right. Can you describe the scene of the community, the mood?

7:00

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Scared.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Mmm.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Because people did not expect it to be as bad as it was. I had a friend that I spoke to. I called her up to see how she was, and when I called her up, she told me that she was on the phone with her son, who was working on first aid, and her son said to her, "get the hell out of the house, the water's coming your way." Before she could even hang up the phone with him, the water's coming under her door.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: That's how fast it came. And she was hysterical, screaming, "come and save me, come and get me." And unfortunately, at that particularly moment, he had to go and rescue the people that were handicapped and stuff, that 8:00never left their house. You know, so then he went, eventually, and got her. But the scariest part of it was the night time, because it was so dark out that you could not see in front of you.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Mmhmm.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: And since I did have a dog, I had to take the dog out, and in order to take him out, I had to walk with a flash light, and I tried not to really go out too late because there was some people going around, you know, busting into houses and stuff, which was scary. That was the scary part.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: How did you clean up the debris and the wall and the leaves and everything?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Well, my neighbor himself came out and picked up the debris. 9:00The rest of it, I just basically went out and cleaned up a little bit. I didn't know that evidently one of my neighbors' trees went into the roof of my garage and put a hole in my garage, which I didn't know until way after the storm, because I don't go out in the garage that much. And since I have trouble walking, you know, I could only do so much and then I had to stop and then come back and do some more. But my neighbor, my neighbor next door, her house was hit pretty hard with the roof was torn-- a lot of it was torn off. Her siding was taken off of her house, and it was funny how it hit certain houses at 10:00different---- another house on the block, two houses on the block, nothing happened. Another one, a tree fell on the back of the house. But thank god, it wasn't one of these trees here, you know, it was like a branch from a tree. So, it took time, I think, but the worst of it was being cold. I mean, but thank god, I had a lot of those afghans that grandmas make.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: [laughs] You know, to keep me warm. That was basically it.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, so who did you contact? Did you contact, like, your insurance company, or FEMA, for the hole in your roof and the one in your garage?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I called both of them. But they-- FEMA wouldn't even 11:00look at the garage because they said it wasn't attached to the house. And they also did not do anything for the hole in my roof. I went through my insurance company, and another thing I lost during-- during the storm but not the day of the storm, it was like maybe a day after or two days after -- I lost my hot water heater, so I had no hot water in the house. But, you know, you survive with what you have, until I could get someone to come over and take care of it. But they were the only ones that really helped me, was my insurance company. I got no help from FEMA.

12:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Uh huh. Okay. How did you notice your community was coping with everything that was going on?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: In some respects, some parts of it, they were-- all the neighbors were helping each other, the ones that could help out. If you left your home, the other neighbor who might have stayed or came back before you, they were all watching out for each other's property.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: You know, they did their best. As I said to you earlier, because of the darkness, you couldn't see two feet in front of you, so whatever went on during the night time, you were unaware of it happening unless you happened to hear something. And then you're not going to go out in the dark 13:00[laughs]. You're going to stay home.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right. Okay. Do you think that New Jersey prepared adequately for the storm?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: I think that the people in charge did their best to tell everybody. I think the people who refused to move and go for fear of vandalism happening to their house and stuff like that, those were the ones that I would say suffered a lot. And again, we're coming back to the word "fear." They just didn't want to leave their houses. But the actual state, the government -- the governor, rather -- he did his best to tell you to leave. He told you, "leave," 14:00and if you were there, then you were there.

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

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: I don't think they-- I don't think they made a big deal of it. I think what they were telling you was actually what happened. I don't think they built it up more than what it was. You know, you really didn't-- you didn't realize how bad it was unless you went and just saw with your own eyes. I mean, if you didn't see with your own eyes, they did tell you, but, you know, I don't 15:00think people really knew the damage that was done in Keansburg itself. I mean, things were-- even the center here, they had, their dumpster in the back floated to the front of the building. So, I mean, unless you went after the storm, and you went around, and some of the blocks you couldn't even go to, and saw it with your own eyes, you wouldn't realize how much damage was done.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right. How do you feel about the governor, the president, making their appearance in the area?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: I thought that was very good. I thought that was very good. I mean, again, I don't think they really came to Keansburg. They went to the 16:00surrounding areas. But I think they did their best. It's like, you know, they can't stretch themselves out that far. They only went-- they went to a lot of areas that were hit really even harder than Keansburg. But I think they did their job.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right. Okay. Have things returned to normal for you?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: For me, yes. Thank god. For me, yes.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Other people, I could still see them struggling.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you have any changes to your daily life?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Only that the next time I will evacuate again, than stay around.

17:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Do you think the storm had an impact on the presidential election, taking into account the fact that many people's normal places for voting were moved or they weren't able to get to somewhere to vote at all? Do you think that impacted the election in any way?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: No. I'll tell you why, because I think if you're a person that always goes out and votes, you find a place to go to.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: You know, you make phone calls, and you find-- now, I think that it was important for them to go out and have their voice heard.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you think that the storm and after Christie's statements made and his reactions to the storm, do you think that that will have an impact 18:00on the governor election that's coming up?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Oh, I think so. I think so, because I think Governor Christie did a great job. I mean, again, we're going back to, he told you to get out, and if you didn't get out, and something happened, that was your fault, not his fault. He did forewarn you to get out, and I think that the people felt that he was very much in touch with the people who were in the storm areas.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Do you think that the storm has a central message, or it carries a legacy at all?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Oh, I think it carries a legacy, and the legacy is when the governor tells you to get out, you get out. You don't stay around.

19:00

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Mmmhmm.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: I mean you don't-- like, foolish me, I said, "well, the last time I went, it wasn't that bad." I mean, again, my part of town didn't get hit as hard as the other parts.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Okay, do you have a word of advice that you could give to those who recently suffered devastation similar to Sandy, in Oklahoma?

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: Well, I feel very sorry for them because that particular storm that came through there, they weren't ready for it. They weren't-- and it wasn't like they were told and they didn't move. They had no choice. It just came, and unfortunately a lot of lives were lost and a lot of homes were 20:00completely destroyed. So…

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

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: No. I think I basically told you everything I felt about the storm. Mmhmm.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay.

HENRIETTA WILLIAMS: All right?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: All right.

0:00 - Interview introduction

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Partial Transcript:My name is Trudi-Ann Lawrence, today is September third, and I am at the Bayshore Community Center.

Segment Synopsis: An introduction to the interview with Henrietta Williams.

Keywords:

Subjects:

0:04 - Brief biography

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Partial Transcript:Can you state your name?

Segment Synopsis: Williams discusses moving to Keansburg with her elderly mother and her previous residences. She also talks about why she thinks it was important for her to have a home and not just an apartment because of the mistakes of others.

Keywords: Apartment; Area; Bronx; Community; Dogs; Home; House; Involvement; Keansburg; Lived; Middletown; Mom; Moved; New Jersey; New York City; Occupation; Rooms; Storm

Subjects:


GPS: Bayshore Senior Community Center (Keansburg, Nj.)
Map Coordinates: 40.448232, -74.129395

3:02 - First thoughts of the storm / day of the storm

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Partial Transcript:Okay, nice. So can you tell me about when you first heard the storm was coming? What did you expect?

Segment Synopsis: Williams discusses that she did not evacuate after first hearing about the storm, which angered her family. Also, she talks about needing to get out of her house during the storm and needing to find a place to freeze her diabetic medicine.

Keywords: After the storm; Attics; Diabetic; Dogs; Evacuate; Expect; Experience; Family; Freezer; Generators; House; Information; Leaves; Medicine; Neighbors; Nephew; Rain; Roof; Room; Sister; Storm; Weather; Wind

Subjects:

6:57 - Mood of the community / clean up

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Partial Transcript:Right. Can you describe the scene of the community, the mood?

Segment Synopsis: Williams describes a call with a friend who was hit by Hurricane Sandy as well. Also, she talks about how randomly the storm destructed certain houses, and left some untouched.

Keywords: Clean up; Community; Debris; Dogs; First aid; Flash light; Garage; House; Houses; Leaves; Mood; Neighbors; Night; Phone; Roof; Scene; Son; Trees; Wall; Water

Subjects:

10:48 - Seeking assistance

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Partial Transcript:Okay, so who did you contact? Did you contact, like, your insurance company, or FEMA, for the hole in your roof and the one in your garage?

Segment Synopsis: Williams explains that she tried to seek assistance from both her insurance company and FEMA. Unfortunately, she only got help from her insurance company and not FEMA.

Keywords: Contact; FEMA; Garage; Hot water heaters; House; Insurance companies; Roof; Storm; Survived

Subjects:

12:00 - Community coping / preparation of New Jersey

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Partial Transcript:Uh huh. Okay. how did you notice your community was coping with everything that was going on?

Segment Synopsis: Williams talks about how her neighbors were helpful to each other at this time of need. she also explains that people did not want to stay at their houses while the storm hit instead they stayed because they did not want anything to happen to their property (i.e., vandalism)

Keywords: Community; Coping; Fear; Governor; Helping; Home; House; Moved; Neighbors; Prepared adequately; Property; Storm; Suffered; Vandalized

Subjects:

14:09 - Media coverage

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Partial Transcript:Do you think that the media coverage adequately portrayed what was going on, or was it sensationalized?

Segment Synopsis: Williams explains that the media did not over exaggerate the storm. She believes that one wouldn't know unless they have witnessed it with their own eyes. Fortunately for her, her daily life went back to normal after the storm.

Keywords: After the storm; Appearance; Area; Building; Changed; Coverage; Daily life; Damage; Evacuate; Governor; Governor Christie; Job; Keansburg; Media; Normal; President; President Obama; Sensationalized

Subjects:


GPS: Keansburg, Nj.
Map Coordinates: 40.441735, -74.130896

17:03 - Impact on politics

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Partial Transcript:Okay. Do you think the storm had an impact on the presidential election, taking into account the fact that many people's normal places for voting were moved or they weren't able to get to somewhere to vote at all? Do you think that impacted the election in any way?

Segment Synopsis: Williams believes there was no impact on the presidential or governor election after Hurricane Sandy. She also believes that Governor Christie did his job in warning people to leave before the storm.

Keywords: Area; Chris Christie; Christie; Election; Governor Christie; Gubernatorial campaign; Impacting; Job; Moved; Phone; Presidential campaign; Storm; Voting

Subjects:

18:43 - Legacy of the storm / word of advice

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Partial Transcript:Okay. Do you think that the storm has a central message, or it carries a legacy at all?

Segment Synopsis: William feels as though the legacy of the storm is to listen to the governor's evacuation warnings next time. She also feels sympathy for those in Oklahoma suffered damage from tornadoes.

Keywords: Destroyed; Devastation; Governor; Home; Hurricane Sandy; Legacy; Lost; Message; Oklahoma; Storm; Suffered; Town

Subjects:

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