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Interview with Ethel, woman in line for food and water in Coney Island

Interviewee: Ethel Ann Bruce, Middle-aged, Black woman in line for food and water in Coney Island.
Interviewer: Shelly Ronen
01/11/13

Q:            Can you tell me a little bit about your experience during the hurricane, do you live around here and how were you?

A:            My granddaughter and I we was in the hurricane and we saw when the water came in. Me and my granddaughter was there, I was praying on my knees, I started praying I had no lights, I had a light.

Q:            Yeah.

A:            Because I learned from my mother to make the light with olive oil and water, the transformers were going boom, boom, boom. My granddaughter said to me, grandma, grandma put your bathing suit on, put your bathing suit on. She said we’re gonna go swimming grandma — I said I am praying, I am praying. You know and then I applied for FEMA and they said because I have high blood pressure and I have — I was diagnosed with — I was in the hospital I was going crazy, I don’t have no — I didn’t have no medication I couldn’t do anything.

Q:            During the hurricane?

A:            Yes during the hurricane and then my daughter was in Mexico, you know and then I saw the water coming I said we gonna — then I said we’re gonna be in heaven, you understand, then when you come to the places to get the food.

Q:            Right, how was it?

A:            You know what’s your rush, they fighting, rushing, the blanket — you can’t get the blankets, you can’t get nothing, those people taking the best for themselves and give you whatever and I got my granddaughter she got — she got eczema.

Q:            And you needed treatment?

A:            And I needed — and in the mud, we was in the mud, you know you can’t get nothing, couldn’t get help and I’m cold, nobody coming tell the churches that you want stuff, too much a hassle, such a hassle to get it.

Q:            So who was helping you in all this?

A:            This church yes, that’s who helped me and I walked and got — the pressure is so high I got to go to Cornelia Hospital.

Q:            And they were helping you there, they gave you treatment?

A:            Yes they did but during then I was — I was not on medication for like two months.

Q:            And what about now, what’s the things that you need, you have no electricity and water and food?

A:            Yeah so I got water, food from here but I gotta do — not the white, I got to use the fresh stuff,  you know the what you call it, the whole wheat, the whole wheat stuff and I do a lot of exercising.

Q:            For your health.

A:            This church is you know.

Q:            Do you have any sense of how your experience is different from other people’s experiences of the hurricane?

A:            Well some people lost everything, some people lost everything.

Q:            Did you have any permanent damage to your home?

A:            No, I’m on the third floor. I got to pay a handy guy for that, I have to wash the dishes, you know. I had to wash the dishes, everyday pain now in my hands.

Q:            Some people are talking about climate change about this might happen again I’m wondering what you think about that?

A:            I think it’s global warming, yes.

Q:            What do you think we should do about it?

A:            We got to pray, I think we got to pray honey, you know.

Q:            Is there anything you think the government can do?

A:            Give us more, do more to help the people you know, more could be done, the medical stuff, we don’t know what’s going to happen.

Q:            Especially with the medical?

A:            Yes even me the medical.

Q:            Do you need help with the box?

A:            Thank you. [packing and moving boxes].

Q:            Is there anything else you want to add?

A:            Volunteers is very good, they try. They do a lot.

Q:            Do you know which organizations you’ve been helped by?

A:            Red Cross.

Q:             Thank you, have a good day.

[Tape off]

Download interview here.

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