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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NY Support Group Offers Lifeline For Sandy Victims

Workers prepare to attach a new section of the boardwalk in Long Beach, N.Y.,  Oct. 3, 2013, where the entire 2.2 mile long boardwalk had to be replaced after it was damaged in Superstorm Sandy. (Frank Eltman/AP)

Workers prepare to attach a new section of the boardwalk in Long Beach, N.Y., Oct. 3, 2013, where the entire 2.2 mile long boardwalk had to be replaced after it was damaged in Superstorm Sandy. (Frank Eltman/AP)

One year after Hurricane Sandy, many of those affected by the ravages of the storm continue to cope with loss — of their homes, communities and, for many, their dreams.

Some are also dealing with insurance and government red tape, questions about re-building and uncertainty of how to move forward.

In Long Beach, N.Y., a free weekly support group has become an important source of comfort and strength. Two support group members and the psychotherapist who runs the group speak to Here & Now’s Robin Young.

Interview Highlights

Dr. Laurie Nadel on what the experience was like

“It was like watching the movie Titanic in your house. At a certain point, the washing machine was floating, and the couch was floating, the refrigerator was floating, and it was like watching something that was so unbelievable that I really didn’t feel unsafe at all. I really felt ‘wow … this is a once in a lifetime thing that is happening,’ and the horror really didn’t hit until the next morning.”

Dr. Laurie Nadel on behaviors of survivors

“The first year after, say, Katrina or Sandy, people go through — it’s survival. I mean, you’re numb and you are just putting one foot in front of the other. And then in the second year, very often there are the deeper feelings — the realization of what you’ve lost, the grief. Or people become extremely self-centered and they regress into this kind of childish anger and blame. Their own feelings of anger and helplessness get triggered and so they attack other people that are hurt. And that’s kind of a lot of what we’re seeing now. It’s very unfortunate.”

Anna Ervolina on dealing with the aftermath

“There are waves that you go through, because it’s that initial shock and now it’s the realization that we’re a year later—this isn’t the neighborhood that I bought into; it’s not the community that I bought into. A lot of my neighbors are not coming back, the stores are not coming back, my little, local library didn’t come back. So we talk about, like we are fighting so hard to come back, and what are we coming back to? My house has to be torn down and raised eight feet above the ground, the insurance gave us about a third of what we need, I have not gotten assistance from FEMA, I have not gotten any significant assistance from any charitable organizations, and there’s a perception out there that I had three different policies out on my house, I must be okay, it’s obviously me, I must be doing something wrong. And it’s not just me; it’s an entire community of people who are in the exact same position I am in.”

Sue Hecht on the support group

“I’ve found that I just gravitate towards people who have been through it, instead of socializing with people that haven’t, because it’s just easier. The support group has been tremendous and if it was seven days a week, it’d be even better.”

Guests

  • Dr. Laurie Nadel, psychotherapist who runs the Long Beach, N.Y., support group.
  • Sue Hecht, support group member.
  • Anna Ervolina, support group member.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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