A community outreach program set up in the aftermath of last year's Tropical Storm Irene will host an evening of storytelling this weekend.
Project Hope of Essex and Clinton counties was launched last November to assist people impacted by the storm. "A Little R & R - Tales of Recovery & Resiliency: Untold Stories of Tropical Storm Irene" will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday at Paul's Bakery on state Route 9N in Upper Jay.
Gretch Sando, program coordinator for Project Hope, said the storytelling event will highlight the experiences of people affected by Irene. It will also be an occasion to celebrate the efforts of emergency personnel and volunteers who came to the aid of their neighbors, she explained.
"Despite all of the damage wrought by the storm and subsequent flooding, what has emerged from this extended recovery period is the amazing strength and resiliency of the people of the North Country," Sando said in a press release.
The event is free and will be run in an open-mic format, with scheduled and non-scheduled speakers. Christian Brammer of Keene will share his memories of the storm and his thoughts about its implications.
"It was frightening and intimidating," he told the Enterprise. "We're high enough off the water that none of my buildings got hit, but half my property was flooded. ... We were basically cut off as the road was blocked by water for the duration of the flood."
Brammer said the storm had an "amazing" affect on community building in Keene and Jay. But he said it also highlighted the separation that exists between "those with means and those without.
"It gave me a wealth of perspective in terms of reflection on our lives in our communities and our lives in the world," Brammer said.
Eric Klotzko of Upper Jay will also speak on Sunday. He said the storm brought a "heightened awareness to the strength of our community.
"Bearing witness to the loss of so many neighbors so close to us was equally saddening and sobering," Klotzko said.
Both men said these types of community events, where people can share stories both uplifting and tragic, are an important part of the healing process.
"Sharing the accounts of Irene's event also remind victims of the tragedy - as well as bystanders that may feel helpless - that there are other people that share their pain," Klotzko said. "Additionally, this type of sharing can hopefully validate feelings which otherwise may leave community members with a sense of isolation."
Brammer said he also plans to share his thoughts about the long-term implications of storms like Irene and the role climate change plays in them.
For more information on Project Hope, call 518-524-9616.