Sandy Nearly One Year Later: Emotions Still High [AUDIO]
It's been nearly a year since Hurricane Sandy devastated the New Jersey coastline and left countless families with deep emotional scars, including many children who are just now starting to scratch the surface of their feelings in the aftermath of the disaster.
Seven to eight percent of calls that come in to PerformCare New Jersey are from families impacted by Sandy. PerformCare New Jersey partners with the state to connect families to a full array of services for New Jersey children, usually at no cost.
"Some children have difficulty immediately after a natural disaster, but most often if there is going to be difficulty, it doesn't always emerge right away," said Samantha Broderick, provider and member communications manager at PerformCare New Jersey.
"In younger kids, stress and anxiety after a disaster often appears as physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches or sleep disturbances. In teens, it can be anything that is out of the norm from what you'd expect to see. It could be anger that's out of proportion for your child, it could be tearfulness or withdrawing from family friends or you may even see a drop in grades."
So, what is a family to do to prepare their child, already suffering with anxiety and stress as a result of Sandy, for the possibility of another devastating storm?
"All of the information put out by agencies about storm readiness is a really good idea. Have a disaster readiness kit and figure out what local resources are available in your community before a storm hits," said Broderick. "It is really helpful to talk over your plan with your children. That can actually help and comfort them. Part of that includes practicing the plan or verbally talking it through."
If a storm does hit New Jersey, it's very important to minimize the amount of time children see news coverage of the event.
"It's very hard for children to interpret storm coverage in a way that makes them feel safe," said Broderick. "They'll see images of storm damage elsewhere and make them feel like it can happen to them even if they aren't in a heavily impacted area."
For those in need of assistance, PerformCare New Jersey has a hotline that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That number is 877-652-7624. You can also visit their website.