With the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy quickly approaching, local recovery groups say the emotional damage of the storm still remains.
NBC40 spoke with experts, and victims, about how to cope with the psychological trauma from a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy.
Hulda Wright is an Atlantic City resident who almost lost everything during Hurricane Sandy, and her family says the months after the storm have been traumatizing. Wright said, “Very depressing. I don’t have words to say it…it was so bad.” Wright’s daughter-in-law, Cristina Bernard, told NBC40, "She was crying a lot and she was really sad -and that made me sad of course, and when you get to that point, you really think nobody can help you."
Craig Snow, Operations Manager for the Atlantic City Long Term Recovery Group, explained, "Often times those dark emotions come when you don't see a way out - when you don't see a good future ahead."
After reaching out to the Atlantic City Long Term Recovery Group, Hulda found emotional recovery, along with volunteers who helped repair her home. Wright said, "They are miracle workers. They will help you."
Volunteers who help similar victims say by the time they are done with a home, most of a victim’s emotional trauma will start to disappear. Peg Sennett, Founder of Joining Hands, said, “Through the weeks we see a mellowing, a trustfulness, a belief, and bringing hope back into someone's life."
Officials with the Atlantic City Long Term Recovery Group say many Sandy victims are still coping with the loss of their homes and other traumas from the storm.
Snow said, "In trauma, particularly with young children and elderly, it can be when there is a big rain storm or when they see water collecting in the street, that can trigger the trauma of the event, depending on where they were during the event."
Through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, New Jersey Mental Health officials have been helping storm victims to work through their psychological issues from the hurricane.
Hilda Wright said, "It's getting better cause there's angels and good people around me, so they're lifting me up and helping me a lot."
Dawn Padick, a Case Manager for the New Jersey Mental Health Association, explained, "For some it is gradual, and for some it is immediate - but it's gratifying at the end of the day to see people who can find relief through the support that our team can provide. To know that our team will be with them until their recovery is complete and when somebody calls you an angel at the end of the day...it's a pretty good feeling."
Experts say dealing with emotional consequences soon after a disaster may help reduce the possibility of long-term problems.
For more information about recovering emotionally from disasters like Hurricane Sandy, click here.
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