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physical labourer




July 1999


A short interview, which gives a personal account of the flood and its effect. The narrator describes his emotions and actions clearly, and pays credit to the relatives and neighbours who helped him and his family: “people were very helpful. I didn’t have any shoes, for example, so the neighbours living in those streets that hadn’t been flooded gave me some”. He is a little more circumspect about the government assistance, which he believes “could have been divided more equally, more fairly – the financial, material assistance. No-one can deny that various people were treated differently – some got more, some got less”.

The flood might have been “a small warning, a very small one, because God’s power is much stronger than that, and he can send much more serious punishment”. His property was badly affected, and it did come as terrible shock, with no warning. He admits he felt “a bit depressed” afterwards and believes the flood did leave some trauma that “will remain with us till the end of our days”. But he wouldn’t move: “… although the elements sometimes bother you, I like living here…”. If it happened again, he would “start preventative actions much sooner. I mean, you can’t prevent such a calamity, but I would remove my things so that they wouldn’t get damaged”.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Woken at 4:30am by the “roar” of the water. He “wasn’t prepared at all”. His first thought was to try and salvage “the most valuable things”.
Section 2  Describes his family’s reactions as they tried to move furniture, animals etc (“panic”) but he “managed to do everything with my boy”. They then escaped by following the railway track to higher land: “there were trees floating, they hit me. I didn’t know exactly where I was going”.
Section 3-4  On returning home and discovering the degree of destruction, he felt like “walking away, going somewhere and leaving all that”, but gradually he cleaned up. He “couldn’t complain, I did get help” from relatives and the government, although this “was just a fraction of what was needed”. He feels the flood was a “small warning from God”.
Section 5  Thinks that the flood taught him the importance of being more prepared. Although official assistance was not always divided fairly, he feels people behaved well under the circumstances (“Poles as a nation are quite good in such extreme situations, they help each other a lot”).