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Project Hope will not leave area hopeless

Town of Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee, left, and town Highway Department employee Ryan Hall Tuesday, Aug. 28 put up one of two banners on the Marcy Field building thanking people for supporting the recovery effort for Tropical Storm Irene, which caused a lot of damage to roadways, bridges and buildings. It was the one-year anniversary of the storm.

Town of Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee, left, and town Highway Department employee Ryan Hall Tuesday, Aug. 28 put up one of two banners on the Marcy Field building thanking people for supporting the recovery effort for Tropical Storm Irene, which caused a lot of damage to roadways, bridges and buildings. It was the one-year anniversary of the storm. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— The Project Hope community program, slated to close by the end of October, won’t leave the Irene affected community without hope.

Fred Balzac, a Project Hope Crisis Counselor, said through the program he and other members of Project Hope were able to help more than 2,000 residents affected by Tropical Storm Irene. The program members were able to cover approximately 39,000 miles across the two counties trying to ensure all who needed the services knew they were available to them.

Project Hope has been working in the community since the flood waters receded. In November, Project members started going door to door to bring aid to people who were in need but not asking for it.

Project Hope is a crisis counseling program created by the state in November to help in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene. It provided services through the Mental Health Association in Essex County. The program was available free of charge to residents across 13 counties that received presidential declarations of disaster, including Clinton and Essex.

Balzac had said the group would not leave until everyone had been helped. Now, Balzac said the group feels they have provided a good outreach and can leave the community with helpful programs.

“Meeting everyone and spending time with members of the community trying to make a difference has been a truely rewarding experience,” Balzac said. “Though Project Hope will no longer be serving the area we are leaving residents in the hands of the Long Term Recovery group. We feel better leaving knowing there are still people left to help, and people who can do so much.”

A wide range of recovery services remain in place for residents of Clinton and Essex Counties affected by Tropical Storm Irene.

“Our role in the recovery is coming to a close, but the recovery itself continues for some in our communities,” said Project Hope Program Coordinator Gretch Sando. “Services remain available for the people who find they still have disaster-related needs through what we call a ‘continuity of concern.’”

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