Sandy victims still struggle with emotional recovery

A woman sifts through her mother's damaged home for items to save. Credit: Getty Images
A woman sifts through her mother’s damaged home for items to save.
Credit: Getty Images

Seven months after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the first floor of her Hamilton Beach home, Jean Ferrara-Rodriquez is still rebuilding her life.

The downstairs’ plumbing needs work, mold in the hallway has to be retreated and she’s still waiting some FEMA checks.

“You worry about one thing and another comes up,” said Ferrara-Rodriquez, 51.

Ferrara-Rodriquez is not alone. The health department said nearly one-third of adults living in the areas hardest-hit by Sandy reported experiencing psychological distress six weeks after the storm.

“When property is destroyed or lost and you cannot get back to your normal environment, it takes much longer to recover from trauma because people have to adjust,” said Paula Madrid, a psychologist with the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.

The city health department urges storm victims to call a helpline in a summer campaign advertising free crisis counseling services through Project Hope, a state initiative funded by FEMA.

Ferrara-Rodriquez has been attending Project Hope group sessions at the Howard Beach Senior Center since April. She draws comfort from meetings with other storm victims.

“You got to be in it to really know what it’s like,” she said.

New Yorkers exhibited psychological reactions to the storm in roughly half of Project Hope crisis counseling sessions since November, according to the health department. Most felt sad, tearful, anxious, fearful, irritable or angry.

Children are especially vulnerable to these symptoms, Madrid said.

“There are a lot of children who are fearful about the summer—these children haven’t had any of these fears before Sandy,” Madrid said, noting the increase in storms during hotter months.

Though Ferrara-Rodriquez’ daughter Jean Marie, 13, doesn’t appear to be afraid of future hurricanes, she was stranded with her mother for several hours at a flooded motel when the storm hit last October. Such traumatic experiences have a greater impact on children and the stress can manifest in different ways, Madrid said.

But recovery—for both adults and children—after a disaster like Sandy can take years.

“Recovery only begins when people feel they are safe,” she said.

Getting help

Health officials hope Sandy victims in emotional turmoil will take advantage of Project Hope’s services.

Since November, hundreds of counselors with Project Hope have already helped 108,000 New Yorkers, going door-to-door in storm-ravaged neighborhoods.

Counselors advise victims individually or in group sessions on how to deal with any stress and anxiety they might feel and, if necessary, give them referrals for professional help.

If you or someone you know feels overwhelmed after Hurricane Sandy, please call 1-800-LIFENET.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.