´╗┐TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: My name is TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE, today is September 4, and I am at the Bayshore Senior Community Center.

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: I'm Sister Sharon Kelley and I'm program director here at the Bayshore Senior Center.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: And your age, if you don't mind.


TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: And for the record, can you state your ethnicity?



[both laugh]

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: That's fine. How long have you lived in your home?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: Two years. A little over two years.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, and do you mind sharing the cost of the home when you purchased it?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: I'm in a convent, so it's a different setup. We don't-- it's a whole different setup.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. So, is there any reason why you chose this neighborhood?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: I came here to work here. I came from Brooklyn to move here to Keansburg because the job was available here, in the senior center.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: What part of Brooklyn?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: For 15 years, I taught in East Flatbush in Catherine McCauley High School.


SISTER SHARON KELLEY: I lived in Richmond Hill, in Queens, but I taught in Flatbush.


TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. All right, so tell me about your family, who makes up your family.

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: I am the oldest of eight. I have six brothers and a sister. Um, what else do you need to know?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: I guess that's it.

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: My ma and dad are not alive, they both died at 71. So, I don't know what else you need but--

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, that's fine. So, you're the program director here.


TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: And you've been doing it how long?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: For two years. I started in July 2010.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Does anything specifically attract you to the area?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: I love the people here. I find a great spirit among the people of Keansburg. There's a simplicity and yet a great openness, and I feel it's really a blessing for me to be here.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Tell me a little bit about when you first heard the 2:00storm was coming, any preparations that you made?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: We did. In the convent, we did. We bought some stapes to make sure that we were all right. I don't think we expected it to flood as much as it did. But we did have some-- and then the people of Keansburg were very good to us. They provided to the convent a generator and a sump pump, so we never, we lost our refrigerator, one of our refrigerators in the basement, but we never lost our heater or anything like that. I mean, it didn't work because we didn't have electricity, but it's really because of the goodness of the people of Keansburg that we didn't suffer more in the convent than we did.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, so take me-- did you have evacuation warnings, did you--


SISTER SHARON KELLEY: We did. We had evacuation warnings, and a matter of fact, we gave our a lot of the information, any information we got, I made sure to give to the people here, because I knew many of them were close to the shore. I think we thought we were all right because we were in a brick building and we lived upstairs, and in that regard we were. I don't know that we thought we needed to leave.


SISTER SHARON KELLEY: And in fact, some of the Sisters didn't. They just stayed the whole time, but some of us also did go to a relative's and whatever, as the time after the storm with no electricity and no heat, as it got colder, some people-- some of us did go somewhere else.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, so take me through the first day of the storm. What were the weather conditions like?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: Well, on the Monday of the storm-- the storm his Monday 4:00night, I think. On that Monday-- actually, it was a fairly gentle day. It was not sunny, by any means, but it wasn't terribly windy. It was a balmy day, it wasn't too cold, and we were able to do everything you needed to do. We closed the center here early, so that-- to make sure people were home, or wherever they needed to be, and I guess we had dinner at the convent, and I guess around 5:00/5:30 is when the storm really started to get bad. I kind of put it together, but I know from TV and the radio and everything went off then. So, but we had already had our dinner, we ate early, and really, I slept through the storm, the worst of the storm. I went to bed, and you could hear the howling wind and the beating of the rain. And I remember the next morning, looking out 5:00onto Carr Avenue, and I'm on the third floor of the convent, and seeing the water running up Carr Avenue, toward the church, toward Church Street, and that's when I really realized it was a lot more rain than I had ever seen before in my life.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay, so can you talk a little bit more about what happened that day, the next day, when you woke up?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: The next day-- okay, well, we woke up. Sister Carol had bought this lantern, that was run on D batteries, a lot of D batteries, but that had some kind of panels to them, so that as the evening wore on, we could take a panel with us to our bedrooms, and I happened to have a transistor radio, so I 6:00was listening all night to hear what was happening. Even on Tuesday, because I guess the overwhelming feeling was being cut off, not knowing, not even knowing how bad things were in Keansburg. Now, the police came and checked to see if we were all right, and one of the police officers took some of the Sisters and they really went to see the shoreline, and they saw where it broke and they saw all of that. I did not do that but some of the Sisters did do that. And as I said, people in the town were wonderful to us. They kept checking that we were all right, that we had food-- and we did, we had-- and we were lucky because someone gave us a generator that kept our refrigerator and freezer going, so we didn't lose any food like other people did. So, the first day, I would say, was kind of 7:00like an adventure. [laughs] Kind of like a camping trip, if you would. So, that was Tuesday. Wednesday it began to get cold, and I began to get a cold. I began to really feel sick, so that by Thursday, my brother had called me on my cell phone and-- that's the other thing, that the generator allowed us to keep our cell phones going. And one of the things we learned, we had one landline phone, and that worked through the whole --through all the storm, it never went down. If we had one of those other kind of phones, it didn't work, but the landline did, so my lesson was-- I think you always need, even if you have basic service, to have a landline phone in the house, because that way you can call out if you need help. But anyway, so by Thursday I called my brother, who lived in Long 8:00Island, which also got very badly hit but his particular place had electricity, and I stayed with my brother until the following Tuesday and came back, even though the electricity wasn't on all the way, things were much better. And so, I kind of bailed, I don't know what else to tell you. Two of the Sisters stayed the whole time here. One of the things I know, post--Sandy, that we did do, is Sisters, was they opened a shelter down in Boulder School, and we would go down just to be a presence to the people in Boulder, to give a kind word, to help serve food if we could, and to help out as we could. And so, I know that two Sisters did it from the very beginning. I did it from the time I came back. All right?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did you suffer any damage?


SISTER SHARON KELLEY: We lost a refrigerator downstairs because we have a basement and almost a sub--basement. And although someone did give us a sump pump to bail out, I think the damage had already been done to the one refrigerator. But otherwise, we were really lucky. I mean, we had to throw out stuff that were in trunks and stuff in the basement, but it was no major loss, nothing compared to what other people suffered.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. How did you realize those around you, coping with what was going on?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: Well, I think people were extraordinarily strong. And I also think it brought out real compassion. People were openly helping other people in any way they can. Now I will say to you, we had a couple of people 10:00here who really lost almost everything they had, and this one person, in particular, I think he's only now beginning to come back to life. He was so traumatized that he didn't know what to do. His house was destroyed, and I will say, here, we had a number of men who work here, who come as members, and they went to his house and they got contractors and they-- and that's what I saw through Sandy, for most of it. I mean, I know you can tell these other tales, but I will always remember the goodness of people toward one another. I don't know if anyone could have survived if people hadn't been good to each other. And I was very, very moved, profoundly touched, by the goodness and generosity of 11:00people during that time. You know, I guess there's always-- that Chinese proverb that every crisis has two parts. It has the chaos or it has the opportunity, and I think that, for the most part, the people in this area used it as an opportunity to build community among each other.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Did you make any other contributions to helping out?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: Oh, did we pay-- yes, we made monetary contributions. We did open the center as soon as we can so that people had somewhere to go, even before we had electricity just so that we could-- that people, if they wanted to come and stop in, could. And we really had an outreach to people to see if we could help in any way. We actively sought counselors for the people here so 12:00that-- we've had some groups come in and do some group sessions and whatever, just so that people can talk about the trauma of their lives. And I really think that in some ways, as the anniversary comes, there's going to be more counseling needed, because I think people are going to begin to relive it, and not be numbed by it anymore. So, I think that there's going to be a great need for us to be very tender with each other.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Right. Did the center suffer any damages?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: We did. There was some. Mainly wind. We had air conditioning ducts and things on the roof, and they were blown right off, things like that. But thanks be to God, we had no flooding damage, so you know, we 13:00really remained fairly intact.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Do you believe that New Jersey prepared adequately, that they did everything that they possibly could?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: I think they did. I think we learned a lot about how we need to prepare and I think maybe it was a wakeup call that this is going to happen more often rather than just a be a freakish thing, and I think FEMA and New Jersey -- the New Jersey government and whatever -- have learned a lot about what really needs to be done. I know that the flooding here was caused because the burms on the-- they just broke and came in. So, I know that there's work being done to see how to shore up that kind of stuff. I also think that we need to look at where people should be allowed to build, you know. I think if we had 14:00had a little more wetlands, maybe the devastation wouldn't have been quite as much. But I think that's a learning-- I don't think anyone planned for this kind of devastation, and so I'm hoping if it happens again, that we'll do even better. But I thought, I thought the governor, I thought the governor and the state senators and the freeholders, I thought were very very present, I thought they tried to help. I think the federal government really tried to help. Again, one of my learnings was, I experienced tons of stuff-- we had lots of things donated here, too, that we gave out to the people in terms of toiletries or home goods. And some things people could use, and some couldn't. And particularly, interestingly, was some of the small appliances and whatever, people didn't need 15:00those when they were rebuilding their homes. They needed it after. So, that was a learning to me, so just sending clothes -- I mean, yes, people needed clothes and yes, they needed all that stuff, but we were overwhelmed with how much stuff people send, and we couldn't use it all, because so many people left, we had no one to give it for awhile. I think those kinds of learnings, and you wouldn't know that unless you lived through it. I guess, maybe there was a certain complacency up in the northeast here, that this kind of stuff couldn't happen to us, what had happened to Katrina and it happens down in Florida. You think, well, it's down there, it's the tropics, that's what's going to happen. And I think the reality is that we're all going to have to deal with, how do we 16:00prepare for this changing climate, this changing world.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you think that the media was adequately portrayed or was sensationalized?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: I think the nature of media is to tell a good story, and to tell a good story is to be dramatic. But I think-- well, first of all, we didn't see TV or anything until after a week and a half or two weeks, because we didn't have electricity here. I saw how bad the devastation was when I went to my brothers, so we had no idea, here, how extensive it was. And even if you had a radio, the visual is very different. I think in the first couple weeks, I don't think they needed to do anything to make it more dramatic than it was. I do think that there was a certain sense, because the media hypes before, that 17:00people thought it was just more hype, and so I think we need to look at our information delivery system a little bit and see how that is. And at the beginning, I didn't think anybody was really manipulating the information. After awhile, yeah, but I think after awhile the people who are rebuilding their lives were too busy to bother with that, anyway. [laughs] It would be interesting to see how this was portrayed outside of this area, and I don't know what that answer was, but I mean, it was here, because we were living through it, and you know. But I have to say to you, I think they did a better job than when 9--11 hit, because at least you didn't just keep seeing the same images over and over again. So, do I think they did a good job? I think they did a more than adequate 18:00job of presenting.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: After the storm, does it make you change your views in any way, like possibly, not want to live by the water, or see things environmentally different?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: Yeah, I think that-- it has not made me want to move from here, because we're not that close to the water, still, but I don't think it should give us all -- and it certainly has given me -- pause to think about how are we developing the shoreline. And I think that that's going to be, hopefully, one of the debates as we go forward. What should be developed and what shouldn't be developed? And my hope is that it's not just going to be the bungalows here in Keansburg, that the poorer people that aren't going to be the ones that can be rebuilt, but maybe some of the wealthier areas, too, where people wanted to 19:00live right by the shore, and that kind of development leads to worse devastation when an event like this happens. I lived for many, many years on Long Island, out in Suffolk County, and every so many years, there were these mansions along the barrier islands in Westhampton Beach -- million dollar homes -- and every so often, they would be washed out to see, and then state insurance paid for them to be rebuilt. I thought it was a travesty. And so my hope is that when we're looking at the development of the shoreline, we're going to look at it from the common good's perspective. What's good for all of us, not just what's good for those of us who can pay, or get government to pay for us. And so, has it made me 20:00a little bit more environmentally aware? Yes. I hope-- I hope it's made our officials and our society a little bit more aware. And that we can't control nature. As tough as we think or as modern as we are, there are things that we can't control.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Have things returned to normal for the most part, or is it a new normal?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: Here in Keansburg, well, here in the center yes, I would say yes, although not everyone came back. And I would say that's an overwhelming experience here in Keansburg. I think there are many people who never came back, who resettled or went somewhere else. And particularly, among poorer people. And I regret that.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: So, have there been any changes to your personal daily life since the storm?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: I can't say yes. No, I don't think so.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Have there been any changes since your outlook to the 21:00community since the events of the storm?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: If anything, I've become more impressed with the community. Just by, what I was saying before, by the care and the outreach that I saw among the people here. Among the people here in the center and among the people in Keansburg, and in Union Beach and in all the local areas that I would be familiar with.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you think that the storm, in some way, had an impact on the presidential election?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: On the presidential election. Well, to the extent that President Obama reacted quickly and effectively, I think maybe, yes. And that he 22:00came here and met with Christie and that Christie and he could cross party lines in order to do what needed to be done, I think that it was a wonderful model, and I think to some extent, maybe people saw him as an effective leader, where maybe they hadn't before.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you think that the storm or Christie's actions since the storm will have an impact on the governor election?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: Yeah, well, yes, I think-- well, quite frankly, Christie was going to win. I think the Democratic candidate hasn't been strong enough, you know, whatever. What I feel bad about with Christie is, he still doesn't 23:00seem to acknowledge that climate change is happening, that there's an environmental implication here. And I think that that can be to our detriment, and I thought he showed real compassion and real humanity during the storm. I hope he doesn't just get to play politics for governorship and maybe for a presidential run, and use the storm for that. Okay?

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: All right. If you could give a word of advice for those who suffered similar devastation, like those in Oklahoma with the tornado, what would your word of advice be to them?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: Don't be afraid to state your need. Trust in the goodness of the people around you. And all of these disasters will pass. There'll be a 24:00better day.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Do you think, if you could, do you think that the storm has a central message or legacy? What would that be?

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: I think that legacy of the storm is to learn that we are not completely in charge, that we are stronger -- to use that song -- we are stronger when we are together. As a religious Sister, I'm going to say to you, that God gave us each other to be able to survive anything.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: Okay. Is there anything that I missed that you possibly would like to share.

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: No, I think that you did a wonderful job.

TRUDI-ANN LAWRENCE: All right, thank you.

SISTER SHARON KELLEY: All right, thank you.


0:00 - Interview introduction

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Partial Transcript:My name is Trudi-Ann Lawrence, today is September 4, and i am at the Bayshore Senior Community Center.

Segment Synopsis: An introduction to the interview with Sister Sharon Kelley.



0:07 - Brief biography

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Partial Transcript:Can you state your name?

Segment Synopsis: Kelley discusses her past of teaching in East Flatbush, New York before transitioning to Keansburg, New Jersey. She also discusses her family tree and the people and spirit of Keansburg that attracted her to the area.

Keywords: Area; Bayshore; Brooklyn; Brother; Cost; Dad; Ethnicity; Family; Flatbush; Home; Job; Keansburg; Mom; Neighborhood; Queens; Richmond Hill; sBlessing; Sister; Work


GPS: Catherine McCauley High School (Brooklyn, Ny.)
Map Coordinates: 40.639495, -73.941825

1:56 - First word of the storm/ evacuation warnings

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Partial Transcript:Okay. Tell me a little bit about when you first heard the storm was coming, any preparations that you made?

Segment Synopsis: Kelley describes that her first expectation of the storm were that it would not be too bad. She also talks about people of Keansburg giving the sisters things such as a generator and a sump pump. Kelley says she believed she was secure because of where she was living and was able to give information during the time of the evacuation warnings.

Keywords: After the storm; Basement; Building; Convent; Electricity; Evacuation warnings; Expect; Flood; Generators; Heat; Information; Keansburg; Lost; Preparations; Refrigerator; Shore; Sister; Stapes; Storm; Suffer; Sump pump


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

3:55 - First day of the storm

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Partial Transcript:Okay, so take me through the first day of the storm. What were the weather conditions like?

Segment Synopsis: Kelley discusses when the storm finally got severe in her area. She also explains that she slept through the storm and woke up to the most rain she had ever seen.

Keywords: Church; Conditions; Convent; Dinner; Floors; Home; Morning; Radio; Rain; Storm; TV; Weather; Wind; Windy


GPS: Carr Avenue (Keansburg, Nj.)
Map Coordinates: 40.448204, -74.133437

5:23 - Day after the storm

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Partial Transcript:Okay, so can you talk a little bit more about what happened that day, the next day, when you woke up?

Segment Synopsis: Kelley describes how fortunate she was during the storm to have help from the people of Keansburg who gave her and the other sisters a generator. She also tells about going to stay with her brother in Long Island until the weather conditions got better. Lastly, she mentions that the sisters who stayed managed to open a shelter for those in need.

Keywords: Batteries; Bedrooms; Boulder School; Brother; Cell phones; Electricity; Food; Freezer; Generators; Hurricane Sandy; Keansburg; Long Island; Lucky; Phone; Police; Police officers; Radio; Service; Shelters; Shore; Sister; Storm; Town


GPS: Joseph R. Bolger Middle School (Keansburg, Nj.)
Map Coordinates: 40.437188, -74.129275

8:57 - Damages suffered / coping after the storm

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Partial Transcript:Did you suffer any damage?

Segment Synopsis: Kelley discusses how lucky she and the other sister were to only lose minor things to the storm compared to others. She goes on to talk about how the generosity of the community helped everyone in it to get by.

Keywords: Area; Basement; Community; Contractors; Coping; Damage; Destroyed; Helping; House; Hurricane Sandy; Loss; Lost; Lucky; Suffer; Sump pump; Survived; Work


11:28 - Contributions during a time of need

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Partial Transcript:Did you make any other contributions to helping out?

Segment Synopsis: Kelley talks about her and the other sisters having shelter for those who were in need. She also discusses the group sessions held for those to talk about the trauma of their lives.

Keywords: Contributions; Contributors; Counselors; Damage; Electricity; Flooding; Help; Helping; Monetary; Outreach; Roof; Trauma; Wind


13:05 - Preparedness of New Jersey

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Partial Transcript:Okay. Do you believe that new Jersey prepared adequately, that they did everything that they possibly could?

Segment Synopsis: Kelley discusses how much of a help the federal government had been in preparation for the storm. She also talks about the many donations in Keansburg for those who needed them.

Keywords: Climate change; Devastation; Donated; federal government; FEMA; Flooding; Governor; Home; Lived; New Jersey; Prepare; Prepared adequately; Rebuild; Shore; Work


16:07 - Media sensationalization

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Partial Transcript:Do you think that the media was adequately portrayed or was sensationalized?

Segment Synopsis: Kelley describes the media coverage during the storm. She feels as though the media coverage was sensationalized and adequately portrayed what was happening with the remains of Hurricane Sandy.

Keywords: Area; Brother; Devastation; Electricity; Information; Job; Media; Radio; Rebuild; Sensationalized; TV


18:10 - Changing views

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Partial Transcript:After the storm, does it make you change your views in any way, like possibly, not want to live by the water, or see things environmentally different?

Segment Synopsis:

Keywords: After the storm; Area; Devastation; Development; Environment; Islands; Keansburg; Long Island; Moved; Nature; Rebuild; Shore; Suffolk; Water; Westhampton Beach


GPS: Westhampton Beach, Ny.
Map Coordinates: 40.809935, -72.644331

20:28 - Changes since the storm

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Partial Transcript:Have things returned to normal for the most part, or is it a new normal?

Segment Synopsis: Kelley talks about how some Keansburg residents did not come back after Hurricane Sandy hit. She also discusses how impressed she is with the community because of the care and compassion the residents have shown among each other.

Keywords: Area; Community; Daily life; Experience; Keansburg; New normal; Normal; Outlook; Resettled; Storm; Union Beach


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

21:37 - Word of advice / storm's legacy

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Partial Transcript:All right. If you could give a word of advice for those who suffered similar devastation, like those in Oklahoma with the tornado, what would your word of advice be to them?

Segment Synopsis: Kelley goes on to say that she believe that the central message of the storm is to ask for assistance if you are in need of it. She is a strong believer in coming together and helping others which she believed got many Keansburg residents through the storm.

Keywords: Devastation; Disaster; Legacy; Message; Oklahoma; Sister; Storm; Suffered; Survived; Tornado


21:41 - The storm's impact on the election

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Partial Transcript:Do you think that the storm, in some way, had an impact on the presidential election?

Segment Synopsis: Kelley describes her thoughts on the presidential and gubernatorial campaigns and elections. She believes that the fact that both Governor Christie and President Obama could cross party lines to come together in order to assist Hurricane Sandy victims made them more likely to win their elections.

Keywords: Christie; Climate change; Election; Environment; Governor; Governor Christie; Gubernatorial campaign; Impacting; Party; Political leaders; Politics; President; President Obama; Presidential campaign; Storm


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