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shop assistant, pensioner




July 1999


This interview concentrates on the flood and its impact on the narrator and her family. Although there are some good anecdotes and details, especially about some of the attempts to compensate/assist flood victims and the mixed reactions and results, the narrow focus is ultimately frustrating. She does expand a little on changes in her village and the surroundings, such as the recent trend for city dwellers to buy summer homes there. She explains that when her father-in-law retired in 1975, his farm became state-owned. But her family was so used to working the land that they have been leasing some fields in order to keep up the old lifestyle. Today they need their income from her pension and her husband’s and son’s jobs to supplement what they make, but they are happy to be smallholders again.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Since the flood, she has been “living in a detached house that I was granted from the state”. Her own house collapsed as result of flood damage.
Section 2  She did not attempt to save any of her possessions, because she “got so panicked”. Although her house was destroyed, the barn “remained almost untouched” and the animals survived.
Section 3  First, they stayed with a neighbour for two months and received ‘flood victim assistance’ from the State. Then they moved to a new house, provided by the Government.
Section 4-5  Although she thinks the rain is much heavier these days, the flood has not made her too fearful and anxious. Recalls how “embarrassed” she was to ask for assistance: “there were a lot of quarrels on who deserved more”.
Section 6  Unlike many, she would not consider leaving Wilkanów after the flood. Yet she’s amazed how today “people from big cities” buy houses in the area. She can’t imagine how city types will get used to life there. “It is just incredible to me”. She herself loves mountain life and after the family farm became state-owned, they decided to lease some land: “We could not get used to living without working on a field. We wanted to regain our fields somehow.”
Section 7-8  Describes some conflict and resentment which arose during the distribution of State assistance. They also received much help from Germany. One of those deliveries also resulted in some regrettable behaviour: “they had a list of families which were in the biggest need … [but] the people grasped at the goods, they started crawling on the track, pulled the driver out, they struggled, quarrelled, they even tried begging the German man”.