Flood victims, volunteers invited to share stories in Middleburgh
MIDDLEBURGH People who endured the wrath of tropical storms Irene and Lee — and those who helped them recover from it — are being invited to a Jan. 20 event to share their stories.
The post-flood recovery organization SALT announced a call for participants in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Reflection on Service.
Planned to coincide with the holiday for an American hero who focused on community service, organizers expect the event to offer both an outlet for victims and volunteers and a learning experience for posterity.
It’s been 29 months since homes were inundated and lives were turned upside down by flooding, and some people are likely not ready to share, said Jerrine Corallo, volunteer director at Schoharie Area Long Term. But for others, an outlet to tell their tale could be therapeutic, she said.
“I think sharing can be cathartic. I’m sure there are those who would like the opportunity to have their story heard,” she said.
Those willing to participate will help create a better picture of the actions that followed the disasters. It would also give a glimpse into what it took to assemble a recovery machine that’s drawn volunteers by the thousands and expects to complete home rebuilding sometime this year.
The Day of Reflection on Service has several sponsors, including the AmeriCorps VISTA program, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the New York Folklore Society.
Students will be helping to collect stories and the Folklore Society will be learning more about what makes volunteers go out of their way to help.
“There’s always a personal investment. We’re hoping to find out motivations for service and how people’s lives are changed,” said Ellen McHale, director of the society.
She said she hopes to learn more about community building, about personal strategies and about how people cope with climate change.
The event will begin with a workshop about the art of storytelling and collecting stories.
A luncheon at noon will feature guest speaker U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook.
Participating volunteers will be recognized on the website of the Folklore Society, where stories that are recorded will be maintained and available.
Arrangements can be made for those who want to share their story but are uneasy about doing so in public, Corallo said.
People willing to participate are asked to register by calling the SALT office at 702-5017 or online at www.saltrecovery.org/mlk.
The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Middleburgh Reformed Church, 178 River St., Middleburgh.