Many New Jersey survivors of Superstorm Sandy are still suffering psychological distress.
Dr. Christine Hatchard is director of the Clinical Psychology Research Center at Monmouth University. She says five years after the storm 15 percent of Sandy victims they’ve been tracking have serious emotional distress. And of those still not back in their homes, 40 percent say they’re stressed out.
“People who’ve had to relocate are probably in distress just dealing with the adjustment, or the new place where they’ve had to move is just not as good as their original home that was damaged. And that can result in higher rates of helplessness and hopelessness because they feel stuck in this new location.”
But for those who have successfully made the transition things have improved. Hatchard says 14 percent of those surveyed say their life today is better than before Sandy hit.
“That could be a sign of post-traumatic growth, which is basically a positive outcome from working through the aftereffects of a trauma, a greater appreciation for life, an ability to focus on what’s really important to them, and a kind of better sense of being able to deal with uncontrollable events.”
A fifth of the Sandy survivors studied say they still need mental or emotional counseling.