The Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, Inc. and The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes announce Transformation from Tragedy: Survivors Remember the Flood of ’72, an oral history project capturing local stories about the Hurricane Agnes flood. When the Chemung River overwhelmed the regional floodwalls, it took 24 lives, swept away whole homes and destroyed millions of dollars of property. Yet, despite the tragedy it caused, the Flood was also a turning point for the area. Transformation from Tragedy: Survivors Remember the Flood of ’72 has two components.

First, the Community Foundation and The ARTS are bringing StoryCorps, the national oral history project, to Elmira and Corning, June 22-27, 2009. StoryCorps is an independent, nonprofit project whose mission is to honor the lives of ordinary Americans. StoryCorps has recorded over 25,000 stories since it began in 2003. Trained facilitators from StoryCorps’ Door-to-Door Program will be at the Steele Memorial Library in Elmira from June 22 – June 24 and at the Southeast Steuben County Library in Corning from June 25 – June 27. Interviews are conducted between two people, such as a parent and his/her adult child, who know and care about each other. The facilitator guides the participants through the interview process and handles the technical aspects of the recording. At the end of a 40-minute session, participants walk away with a CD of their interview. A second copy becomes part of an archive at the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress. An additional copy will be archived in area libraries and historical societies making it accessible to future researchers.

The StoryCorps Door-to-Door Program will conduct thirty-six interviews over the course of six days. In order to make those interview slots available to people in a fair manner, a lottery registration will be published in the Corning Leader, the Elmira Star Gazette and on The ARTS’ website. If you are interested in telling your story, please fill out the form and return it to The ARTS, 32 West Market Street Corning, NY 14830, where names will randomly be chosen. The lottery begins May 3 and closes May 22.

In addition to the StoryCorps component, a toll free number has been established to digitally record the stories of anyone who wishes to call. The phone is available immediately and will be in operation until the end of December 2009. These stories will be saved on CD and archived in the libraries and historical societies. Please call toll free 1-866-598-7273 to record your flood story.

All of the stories gathered will be produced into a documentary for release in 2012 during the 40th anniversary commemoration. Make sure you’re a part of history; tell your story!

Transformation from Tragedy: Survivors Remember the Flood of ’72 is supported by contributions from the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, Inc., the Triad Foundation, the Elmira Star Gazette and the Corning Leader.

StoryCorps is an independent, nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to take home and share, and is archived for generations to come at the Library of Congress. Millions listen to the award-winning broadcasts on public radio and the Internet. Select stories have also been published in the New York Times bestselling book, Listening Is an Act of Love (Penguin Press). StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, creating a growing portrait of who we really are as Americans. Visit http://www.storycorps.org for more information.

The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes is the leading arts services and development agency in Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben Counties. For more information call Connie Sullivan-Blum at The ARTS 607-962-5871 x222, email folkarts@earts.org/, or go to http://www.earts.org/.