Disastrous. Mortifying. Destructive. Calamitous.
Those are just a few of the words that can describe the horrors Hurricane Sandy brought to the residents of Woodbridge, New Jersey, and citizens all across the Northeast coast of the United States.
New Jersey was one of the hardest-hit states, and its beloved shore area was devastated by Sandy’s high winds and flooding. One flood prone area in central New Jersey is the Woodbridge River Basin. Although the area has not received much attention that some other devastated places in New York and New Jersey, it is a spot that has been devastated by major flooding over the past two years from Hurricanes Irene (in 2011) and Sandy. The area has suffered mightily from storms over the years, yet nothing major has been done to fix or slow down the flooding that occurs.
Along with a state-of-the-art community center and the oldest library in Woodbridge, the town features the Woodbridge River, which begins in the central Woodbridge area and snakes its way down to Arthur Kill, which is the body of water that separates New Jersey from New York. The river began causing trouble when an extension of the New Jersey Turnpike was built in 1951. Because the Woodbridge River ran in the path of the turnpike extension and caused major flooding problems on a marquee roadway, a man-made creek was built to channel waters away from the turnpike and into swamp lands that neighbor a small community.
What does that mean? It means that every time a major rainstorm occurs, the turnpike will not flood, but the small neighborhood will be prone to flooding.
Disastrous. Mortifying. Destructive. Calamitous.
The instant I stepped inside Barnes & Noble at 54th street in New York City for NBA superstar Amar’e Stoudemire’s signing of his newly-released children’s book, Home Court, I could tell by the excited children – and even adults – that were beginning to line up, that this would be a special day! I would be interviewing Stoudemire about Home Court, which is the first book in his STAT (Standing Tall and Talented) series, an autobiographical set of books about his childhood.
My dad and I were led into a small conference room. It was only around 10:45 a.m., and it would still be awhile before Stoudemire’s arrival. Two people from a New York Knicks website were already waiting, and over the next 20 minutes more and more reporters and media personalities gathered, many of whom I knew from their journalism work on TV or the Internet. I was able to meet Tina Cervasio, a two-time Emmy award winner for her fantastic work on New York Knicks and New York Redbulls broadcasts for MSG Networks. It was also a pleasure to also meet Jared Zwerling, whose articles on the Knicks and NBA I read almost daily on ESPN.com.
As I was reviewing my interview questions, Amar’e Stoudemire, standing 6’11” tall, walked quietly through the door! Nearly all the reporters sitting down got to their feet in a hurry and cameramen and women quickly set up their equipment. The Barnes & Noble representative that had escorted me to the room earlier announced to all of us: “Amar’e will be on this side back wall taking your open questions.”
As if they were all tied together by a long string, the entire pack of reporters, writers, and camerapeople moved at once towards the area of the room where Stoudemire stood. I immediately picked up my tape recorder, gave my personal camera to my dad so he could film the “press conference,” and hustled over to join the pack of reporters that had formed a crowd around Amar’e.
Cervasio started the interview with three questions about Home Court. After several more book-related questions, the interview shifted to the subject of basketball. I was able to squeeze through the throng of bodies so I could stand– crouch at times – at the side of Amar’e. It was extremely tough for me to try and interject my questions, as all the other reporters were assertively asking theirs! Eventually, I managed to ask Stoudemire a few of my questions about his thoughts on training camp and how the Knicks can improve through the training.
When the Q&A session was over, I went back to my seat excitedly. Now was the moment I was waiting for -- my one-on-one interview with Amar’e Stoudemire!
Amar’e made his way to the table where I was seated and sat down across from me. As the camera crew set up their equipment, I told Amar’e my name, and my small hand shook his huge hand to begin the interview. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous as I asked him my first question. There were a great deal of cameramen with video recorders and microphones, but mainly there were a lot of reporters watching me. And, of course, I was interviewing a NBA superstar. How could I not be nervous? However, after the first question, I think I calmed down. I was able to go through all twelve of my questions perfectly, all of which were kindly answered by Amar’e.
After about 15 minutes of talking with Amar’e, the interview came to a close. I was extremely excited as I shook hands with him, and then he signed my personal copy of Home Court! Seemingly all of the other reporters came up to me and said “nice job,” or “you’ll be taking my job soon” as I said my final regards to Amar’e.
I had a fantastic
time in New York City meeting professional reporters and talking with Amar’e
Stoudemire. I truly enjoyed every single second of the experience. Hopefully, I
can do it again when Double Team, the
second book in the STAT series, is released in October!
You can watch my interview with Amar’e on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website!
—Kid Reporter Amiri TullochPhoto: Kid Reporter Amiri Tulloch with Amar’e Stoudemire after their interview in New York City. (Dante A. Ciampaglia/Scholastic)