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Interview with home health-care worker, Coney Island

Interviewee: Russian woman, home-health worker in her 50’s. Interviewed on line while collecting food for two clients in Coney Island.
Interviewer: Shelly Ronen

Q:            What was your experience of Sandy?

A:            Yeah it was no lights, no electricity, I remember the day of the storm. It was pretty tough.

Q:            And this is the woman you work for?

A:            Yeah I have two friends. One older, a gentleman on XXth and STREET NAME and the other on XXth and STREET NAME.

Q:            And you live around here as well?

A:            No I live in Manhattan. I just work here.

Q:            You just work here?

A:            I am Russian, you know.

Q:            I see, I understand.  And so in the work that you’ve been –[She collects food] so in the work that you’ve been doing here who’s been helping, how have you been accessing?

A:            Lots of people helping, lots of giving food. It’s pretty good, you know. We cannot complain they’re still there. They’re still serving hot food.

Q:            The line is long.

A:            Yeah.

Q:            Is that a problem?

A:            I cannot talk too long.

Q:            Especially if you’re in a rush. [She gets water] Do you mind if we walk with you just a couple blocks?

A:            You can walk with me.

Q:            Great. So you live in Manhattan and you work down here?

A:            Yeah.

Q:            Do you have any sense of how people in different places in New York experienced the storm differently?

A:            I don’t have experience because I work you know, that’s kind of tough. Because I work sometimes 11, 12 hours.

Q:            And the work that you do is?

A:            Home attendant job, home health aide.

Q:            And your clients, can you tell me about your clients?

A:            Yeah one guy he’s 93, just turned 93 and the lady in her 90’s.

Q:            They’re all older.

A:            She suffers a lot.

Q:            And so other than losing telephones and losing power what other sort of needs and problems have arisen for them?

A:            I can’t see any problems. I mean, you have to find people who lives on the first floor. Because that’s what they have really problems, you know because my gentleman he lives on the 6th floor and the lady lives on the– I don’t, she lives on the second floor. They didn’t suffer a lot. But her friend, she’s 91 or 92 she lives on the first floor, she was flooded, I don’t know how she didn’t have power just, you know.

Q:            So it’s mostly just the people on the lower floors were suffering more than the people on the higher floors?

A:            Yeah.

Q:            What about age or men and women, do you think some people suffered more than others in certain ways or had more problems?

A:            Yeah for sure because when there was not any electricity the elevators didn’t work and you have to walk you know, because no lights and some people — mostly it’s mostly disabled people, SSI, welfare, low income. They don’t have healthcare, and they have to walk upstairs, that was the problem.

Q:            There are extra problems for people who are on welfare, right?

A:            Welfare, they still can walk. But mostly those can’t walk but mostly who is old.

Q:            What do you think can be done differently in the future if this were to happen again, how do you think that it should be dealt with?  You said the problems of lower level having issues or problems working?

A:            I think they should go house by house and give what people need just to see by own eyes, not to everyone because sometimes people don’t have time to go, you know… to get food or whatever.

Q:            It needs to be brought to them?

A:            Yeah I think so but the Russian Jewish community they used to do that.  They would walk door to door and give just for Jewish.

Q:            Here?

A:            Which is kind ah, you know, not nice. Because if you’re going on second floor you should give everyone you know, no matter if it’s a Jewish or African American or whatever.

Q:            Yeah. So some people are talking a lot about climate change, about that this was caused by climate change what do you think of that?

A:            I don’t know, I mean it’s good the climate change, I believe it’s — the energy of the sea it makes just because the people frustrated about the crisis, no jobs, low wages jobs or it’s no middle class. That’s why why people frustrated and angry.  It’s my idea, it makes some vibes which is completely negative you know. That’s what I think.

Q:            I see, is there anything else that you think we should know, we’re interested in the experiences of people affected by Sandy?

A:            I cannot say that much. I don’t know guys.

Q:            Okay thank you so much, do you think that I could get your signature?

A:            Somehow on different level, like those houses they suffered a lot, who lives on the 9th floor, how he suffered just electricity, the phone and sometimes heat and that’s all.

Q:            Thank you so much.

[end of tape]

Download Transcript here.

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