Stories of survival

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And so she began filming. People came to the coffee shop to sit and share their stories. She has taped around 30 interviews so far, and has another 10 or so scheduled. She said she wants to get a cross-section of people, from different areas, occupations and age groups, to get a comprehensive picture of what residents went through.

Some people, she said, have gotten a lot of exposure or notoriety for their actions in the aftermath of the storm. But Trasciatti said she wanted to focus more on the untold or more common stories. She wants people to know that every experience was important and worth sharing.

“The biggest obstacle is people think they don’t have a story,” she said. “It’s mostly the people who don’t think they have a story that have these profoundly interesting stories.”

Trasciatti tries to stay objective in her interviews, allowing people to say what they want and not trying to lead them or shape the outcome. Anything goes, from cursing to crying.

“The difference between [the news] and this is I don’t have a story that I’m trying to tell,” she said. “What I want to do with the interviews will grow out of what people say, not the other way around.”

And the result has been phenomenal, she said. From the interviews, Trasciatti has been able to explore the storm from many different vantage points. She can compare stories of people who evacuated and those who didn’t, to see the different kinds of trauma they experienced.

She has heard stories from disabled people and seen how they regard storm warnings differently than the able-bodied. She was surprised to see that traditional gender roles reasserted themselves during the storm, with men acting as protectors. And she can contrast how people who were alone coped with the fear of the unknown versus families, friends or couples who had someone to lean on in those dark hours.

“This is a chance for people to tell their own history,” Trasciatti said. “One question I ask everybody is, ‘OK, pretend it’s 100 years from now. What do you want them to know?’ People have that opportunity to leave their mark.”

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