Though two years have passed since Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, a new poll finds that mental health issues remain among residents whose homes were significantly damaged during the storm.
While the percentage of residents suffering serious psychological distress ticked down from a year ago, according to the Monmouth University Poll, nearly half of those surveyed still report at least moderate distress, which is just slightly lower than a year ago.
The poll shows stress levels are higher among those who remain displaced than those who have been able to return home…For residents who are still displaced, 31 percent reported less stress, 26 percent reported more stress and 43 percent had no change.
The survey tracked hundreds of residents over the last two years who had more than one foot of flooding in the first floor or at least $8,000 in property damage during Sandy. About a year after Sandy hit, more than 800 residents were surveyed and more than 600 of those residents were interviewed again over the past few months…
Just one group saw significant improvement: residents able to move back home. Half of those surveyed who were able to return home over the past year were faring better. For residents who were able to return home more than a year ago, roughly a quarter reported less distress and the majority showed no change in stress levels.
“Getting people back in to their homes is not a panacea for healing all the mental health concerns of Sandy survivors. However, it is the biggest single positive factor we see in these results,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The poll also found that 22 percent of the residents surveyed showed signs of a provisional diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Parents of children under the age of 18 in the group surveyed had among the highest rates of PTSD.
The survey was conducted online and by telephone with 616 New Jersey Sandy survivors as part of a larger study tracking the experiences of residents impacted by the storm. The survey results cannot be statistically projected to the larger population of all Sandy victims in New Jersey.
An estimated four thousand New Jersey families are still awaiting on an available $945 million in Sandy recovery funding (click here and below for more):