Well now that the Easter holiday is over, everyone is going back to work, including me. My interviewee got back to me over the weekend and I was surprised by the response. It’s hard to judge how an interview is going to go based on a few tidbits you hear. Ms. Kimmons story is a sad yet inspiration yarn that will fit perfectly into my piece.
Below I have posted the entirety of the interview:
1. If you could just detail your struggle during and after Sandy hit, I would appreciate it.
We were in Italy on a wonderful 2 week ,long planned ,trip with our dear friends . We left on Oct 15 in beautiful weather .We were due to come home on Oct 29. We knew about the storm and ultimately our flight on the 29th was cancelled. We were in Rome for another 5 days before we could get home. We did our best to keep busy but it was a very stressful 5 days. We had to fly to Washington and rent a car and drive back to NJ. We were in contact with our family, neighbors and friends so we knew we were coming home to bad news.
On our way up from DC we hit Home Depot and the ATM because we knew there was no power in much of NJ.
We live on a lagoon in the Baywood section of Brick. The day we arrived home our house did not look too bad. It had had almost a week to dry. FLoors were filthy. We had 20 inches of water in our entry and sun room and about 5-6 inches everywhere else. We were lucky that our neighbors and kids were able to get into the house before we got home and remove rugs and some valuables.
The day we got home, Nov 4, our son had a crew waiting to remediate. They emptied the house . What could not be salvaged went to the curb. The rest went out on the deck. They they took out all of the sheetrock and insulation 38 inches up from the floor. I really remember very little of that day because it was such a shock. In 4 hours my house became a construction zone.
The studs had to completely dry out before anything else could be done,so our belongings went to a self storage unit in Lakewood. We spent 2 weeks with dehumidifiers and commercial fans drying.
We were lucky that we have dear friends who have a small house, fully furnished, in Bradley Beach that was unused and they offered it to us. It was the thing that kept us sane ! We were able to leave everyday and go to a lovely environment to unwind. ( stopping in Brielle to see the grand kids on the way – they can always cheer us up ) We also had friends living nearby so they took good care of us.
There are times in those first 4-6 weeks that I think I have put out of my mind because they were too painful. Our entire street , and all of Baywood for that matter, looked like a war zone. The streets were piled with belongings that were ruined. It was very depressing to see every day. There was no electricity for 18 days. Only a few of our neighbors had been able to stay in their houses with generators, It was all very depressing. but we were there every day working.
Fortunately Brian is very handy .He literally has rebuilt this house. We also had a wonderful network of family and friends with information that helped us to move quickly. We had a new furnace and water heater the first week. Heat was important to dry the wood.
After the house was dry we started replacing the sheetrock. Brian and his friends rehung the entire house. We had someone tape and spackle and then the painting began. We all painted for a few weeks. All of the interior doors had to be replaced, again Brian and I did that. Then came the trim and finish work. (And the floors were sanded and refinished. )
We were able to move back in on March 6 ! Still lots to do but all decorating now . ( and cleaning )
Our deck/back yard is a mess but that is for warmer weather to be able to fix.
My car ( new in June ) had been in the driveway so it was dead. It was 6 weeks before the insurance company settled the claim.
We did not have flood insurance but we did get some help from FEMA. We were very impressed with them even though others have not had such a good experience.
Sandy was the most overwhelming thing I have ever experienced. There were days where the sadness of it all was terrible. Working on the repairs ourselves helped keep us busy and our minds occupied. Sleeping was another story. I am only now sleeping past 5 am ! I tried to keep reminding myself during all of the mess that we were lucky ones who were able to repair our home. Many houses are condemned or just gone. I know we were lucky but there days that I had the “poor me”s. Driving through Mantoloking still hits me hard.
We are still discovering things that we “lost” . Lots got thrown out those first few days. One of the saddest things that went was a basket of books I had collected for ages that my grandchildren loved. Plus we eventually had to clear out the garage ( 2 ft of water ) and shed.
House looks great. New appliances, floors, doors, paint ! Not the way to get it done though ! I made sure we painted everything the same colors. Wanted our house back the way it was when we left for Italy.
One of the things I have come away with during all of this is that people really are so good. For weeks we were deluged every day with offers of help . Church groups sent cars out every day for anyone who needed lunch. Our friends and family were here whenever we needed help. ( which was a lot ! ) Our whole neighborhood came together . We have a pretty great neighborhood to begin with but we all have become closer. We were one of the last to move back . I can’t express how good it feels.
Our area looks pretty good now. The closer to the bay the worse it gets. It will be years before things are normal again I think. Still ,we love living on the water.
the one thing thad survived nicely is our boat which was in the water behind the house. I was sure it would have been in my living room but not a scratch . We do not think there will be much boating this summer in the bay. It needs to be cleaned and dregged.
We have documented everything in pictures ( some taken by neighbors before we got home). Some day I will be able to look at at them, but not right now. For now I just look at how nice it all looks.
I have tried to give you the story in a nutshell. I could probably go on all day ! Please let me know if you need anything more or if things are unclear. . I did not want to burden you with unnecessary things.
End of Answer
I might ask more questions as I write my story, but Ms. Kimmons gave me plenty to work with as of now.
Even though the editors in Postmoden Interviewing have their own ideas about what constitutes a good interview, I don’t think I would change anything about my approach. It was obvious to me that Ms. Kimmons was traumatized by the whole incident and I didn’t want to push my luck. She told me what I needed to know. Maybe I could have done more to make her comfortable and as Gubrium and Holstein suggest, start a rapport with Ms. Kimmons, but I wanted to make her pain minimal.