Superstorm Sandy’s first anniversary is October 29th. As members of organizations providing emotional and spiritual care to those affected by Sandy and all disasters, we’d like to acknowledge that many throughout our area are still experiencing a range of emotions. This includes those most directly affected, others across the city, and those who have responded.
We’d like to highlight to the public that it can be natural for disaster anniversaries to trigger a variety of strong reactions, and at the same time there are coping skills and resources that can comfort and help us recover.
Disasters such as Superstorm Sandy have on-going effects on our emotional, spiritual, physical and financial lives -and impact housing, employment, relationships, and so much more. Among many expressions, children may show behaviors from earlier years, teens and adolescents may act out or become isolated, and adults may turn to adverse coping behaviors such as increasing alcohol or drug use.
Many individuals and communities show resilience after disasters. Some may need extra time or support to recover – which is natural and to be expected. That support can come in different forms and from different sources. There is no timeline for when people should ‘get over’ the struggles they face. As the anniversary of Sandy approaches people may feel anxious or overwhelmed. Below are examples of things anyone can do to lessen these feelings:
- Be aware that anniversaries and special days can be difficult, so be gentle with yourself and others
- Connect to friends and loved ones, accept kindness and help, and reach out and ask for help if needed. Helping others can often help us as well. Consider volunteering at a favorite organization.
- Do whatever you normally do to cope in positive ways with stress – take walks, go running, get outdoors – and be sure to make time to do these things in the days before, on, and after the 29th
- Partake in rituals that may provide soothing comfort, and talk about your losses if you need to
- Do something positive that you would like to do, rather than what you or others might think you should do for the anniversary
- Draw on your faith/spirituality for guidance and support
If you have tried these healthy coping tips and still find yourself struggling, here are some local and national resources available to you:
- For free confidential support when feeling overwhelmed in NYC, Long Island, or Westchester County, contact Project Hope (24/7) at 1-800-LIFENET (English), 1-877-AYUDESE (Spanish), 1-877-990-8585 (Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese) http://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/disaster_resources/project_hope/
- If you need help/a connection to concrete resources, a trained and compassionate Disaster Case Manager from one of the 19 agencies participating in the NY State Disaster Case Management Program can answer your questions about recovery, work with you to develop a plan to address your needs, and connect you with appropriate community resources. Call the Sandy DCM Referral line at 1-855-258-0483 (Monday-Friday, 9am – 5pm). For more info, visit www.sandydcm.org.
- The Disaster Distress Helpline is also available 24/7 for New Yorkers and anyone in the U.S./territories affected by and struggling after Hurricane Sandy or any other natural or human-caused disaster (1-800-985-5990 / text “TalkWithUs” to 66746) http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/