Some Sandy Victims Still Emotionally Scarred [AUDIO]
More than five months after Hurricane Sandy belted the Garden State, some of the hardest hit residents are still struggling with symptoms including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"People are suffering because they never imagined they'd be in the position they are in now. They may have always thought they always had their home and their retirement or their life planned in a certain way, and then disaster comes and strikes and shakes our assumptions," says Adrienne Fessler-Belli, the Director of the Disaster and Terrorism Branch for the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, in the New Jersey Department of Human Services.
She points out each person reacts in their own way to a disaster and to a recovery, and each situation is unique, so it's really important not to generalize reactions.
"What they're going through, no matter what phase of the recovery they're going through, they're not alone. We do have a New Jersey Hope and Healing helpline number that they can call, which is 877-294-4357."
Fessler-Belli also says a prolonged recovery from disaster, like what we have with Sandy, is very difficult for many people, because there's more frustration, there's more anxiety and uncertainty about the future, and it's overwhelming trying to navigate the system to try to get assistance.
She adds that adults are feeling it as well as children.
"Some of the reactions include - they're nervous, they worry," she says. "Some may become too clingy - if it rains, it may bring some of those reactions of fear that it's going to flood again. Children often look to the adults to see their reaction, to determine whether they should be afraid or not. There are programs in schools to help these children and their parents."