Red Hookers share their Sandy stories in oral history project • Brooklyn Paper

Red Hookers share their Sandy stories in oral history project

Sharing your story: Noel Kepler is spearheading a campaign to invite Red Hookers who fell victim to Hurricane Sandy to share their stories from March 2 to March 8.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Residents and merchants of Hurricane Sandy-slammed Red Hook can share their stories about the storm — and help their neighborhood the next time disaster strikes.

An emergency preparedness firm will record the Sandy tales of hundreds of individuals at the Kentler International Drawing Space on Van Brunt Street next week in hopes of providing catharsis and helping experts learn the woes that such catastrophes cause.

“Having 200 to 300 people come into the center and share their personal experiences allows us to get a real big picture of what’s going on in that specific community and allows us the opportunity to create a strategy for current and long-term needs,” said Noel Kepler, the chief operating officer of Emergency Management Methodology Partners, who is spearheading the “Tell Your Story Campaign.”

Kepler said the project will be therapeutic for residents and useful for emergency preparedness experts after the interviews are turned into a documentary about the storm’s affect on Red Hook.

“It is important to document the tragedies that happened because if we don’t keep a document then we don’t know where we need to improve,” said Kepler, who hopes to use the 20-minute film as a fund-raising tool at a silent auction in April to help neighborhood businesses.

Every Red Hook resident, shopkeeper, or worker who visits the center must sign a waiver because their photographs will be taken and their stories will be voice recorded.

Not everyone who shows up will get camera time, but all participants will speak with social workers and trained therapists.

“It’s all about people coming to vent their frustrations and share their individual stories,” she said.

Hicks Street resident Sherri Harden, whose apartment in the Red Hook Houses got inundated with three feet of water and lost power for two weeks, said the oral history project is a great idea.

“For a lot of residents it was depressing and left them without any hope,” said Harden, a member of the community group the Red Hook Initiative. “It’s important for them to know they haven’t been forgotten about.”

The first 200 participants will receive a $20 gift card to the Fairway Market slated to open March 1.

Tell Your Story Center at the Kentler International Drawing Space [353 Van Brunt St. between Wolcott and Dikeman streets, (718) 875–2098, www.facebook.com/TellYourHurricaneSandyRedHookStory]. March 2–5, March 7–8, 10 am to 6 pm.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

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