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works in the bakery




July 1999


There’s a lot of detail on the flood and its aftermath in this interview, yet the narrator reveals quite a bit about herself too. She lost her husband in a car crash not long after moving to Goworów. She’s had to struggle alone with the financial and practical implications of renovating the house and land they had bought. Their plan was to start an agro-tourism business, but she hasn’t the resources now, especially since the flood caused so much damage. She admits that life would have been easier had she stayed in their old housing estate, but she loves the mountains and the general environment and doesn’t regret the move.

Many vivid descriptions of the flood: “you could say it was just one, huge lake”; “it was just awful what I saw, just awful. Lots of stones, pieces of rock on the road, people were crying, houses were flooded, my neighbour’s barn had been flushed away”. She describes the aftermath too: “when the water dropped, it left such a battleground behind, I don’t know, you could say there had been a war”. The emotional devastation was also significant: “there was a moment of a real breakdown, people cried, children … it’s impossible to describe what was going on inside us. Until this day, when I’m talking about it, I can hear the roar of those stones, it was awful”. People were quick to assist each other “and everybody seemed to forget that they had quarrelled with their neighbour or something. They helped each other out”. However, like other narrators, she explains that disputes and misunderstandings developed later, over the distribution of the state assistance.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Early history: lived on housing estate in Dzierzoniow, but “missed nature”. She was “enchanted by the mountain” and bought the house in Goworów with her husband. It was “in a very bad condition”, so she kept her job and they only came at weekends. Finally gave up her job and moved there, but about 7 months later, her husband was killed in car crash. She was left with debts.
Section 2  Admits you “had to put less effort” in Dzierzoniow but glad she is “living in the country” and doesn’t think she “would be happy living in a block of flats”. Was planning to go into agro-tourism, but the house and land are not ready.
Section 3-4  Describes the flood: she was on night shift in the bakery. Didn’t return home immediately because she “was a bit afraid to go alone into the night”. Finally got to the village at 4am. Describes the power of the water, the destruction it caused, people’s attempts to salvage property and animals. In the immediate aftermath “we most needed drinking water, cause the one we had was undrinkable. All the wells were flooded, full of mud”.
Section 5-7  Recalls how she helped her neighbour; “everybody took to tidying up”. On the second day, they received some assistance, drinking water etc, but people “almost lost faith” as the water continued to rise. Children and older people particularly suffered from anxiety and stress afterwards. Some counselling was available, and at times was needed to resolve the tension and anger about the distribution of material assistance.
Section 8-9  The fall-out from the flood: some misunderstandings and quarrels within communities; the authorities kept some promises kept (eg installed telephones) and failed to fulfil others (eg haven’t modernised sewage system).
Section 10-11  More detail on post-flood activities, and thoughts on her life now.
Section 12  She was the local mayor for a while and found how “nosy” and “how hypocritical some [people] could be”. Still has plans to develop tourism. She puts on a brave face throughout the interview but here her voice breaks as she reveals the tough time she has had since her husband’s death: “when I came here, I had to go to such a fierce school of life...” . But feels it has made her more understanding of others.
Section 13  Like other newcomers, she encountered some suspicion from the locals (“we were under observation”), but they were sympathetic when her husband died. She does not regret the move, although sometimes she thinks the “accident wouldn’t have happened, that tragedy … but you have to go on living”.