By MIRANDA ORSO, Press-Republican
---- — UPPER JAY — Eric Klotzko watched the Town of Jay and its hamlets transform from tranquil to turbulent when Tropical Storm Irene’s widespread wrath badly damaged businesses and homes there last August.
In the aftermath, he immediately took to action organizing a firewood drive for neighbors in need.
“We saw how people rally together with physical, financial and emotional support,” Klotzko said.
He’s looking forward to sharing his storm experiences on Sunday at Paul’s Bakery in Upper Jay during “A Little R&R — Tales of Recovery and Resiliency: Untold Stories of Tropical Storm Irene,” sponsored by the Project Hope community-outreach program.
Storm survivors, first-responders and community volunteers are invited to tell their stories, too, at the open-mike event set for 7 p.m.
Klotzko went on to help raise close to $200,000 for his community of Jay as a member of the Upper Jay Relief Fund and distributed funds under the guidance of the Jay Allocation Committee.
“I am just one blade of grass in a field of support,” he said.
Project Hope Program Coordinator Gretch Sando hopes the event will highlight the strength and enduring spirit that materialized after the storm.
“Despite all of the damage wrought by the storm and subsequent flooding, what has emerged from the extended recovery period is the amazing strength and resiliency of the people of the North Country,” Sando said in a press release. “(Owner) Paul Johnson and his team at the bakery are a prime illustration of that resiliency — rebuilding and reopening the business after Irene almost completely wiped it out.”
The Project Hope Crisis counselors provided many free services to a large number of people across 13 counties, reaching out to them through door-to-door canvassing, community networking and public presentations.
As the one-year anniversary of the storm approaches, Sando said, they continue to work hard, making sure residents in need of Irene-related services get help and have a chance to have their voices heard.
Sunday’s event, so close to the first anniversary of the storm, helps with that aim.
“We couldn’t find a more appropriate venue for people in the region to come together and share their experiences of the storm and its aftermath, which itself will be one more step in the recovery process,” Sando added.
Admission to the event is free. Paul’s Bakery is located at 12108 Route 9N.
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