Even after almost three years of having hit the shores and homes of New Jersey, Superstorm Sandy still greatly affects the lives of many.
Researchers from New York University (NYI), Rutgers University and Colorado State University conducted a study to look at how far down the line the superstorm had affected people's lives.
Currently, a lot of New Jersey residents are still dealing with unfinished repairs, recurrent mold and disputed claims.
A more impacting mark that the superstorm has left its victims, the researchers noticed, is seen in an increasing number of residents experiencing poor mental health such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental health distress and depression.
"It was striking to us and to our field team of over 30 interviewers how Sandy still dominated the lives of so many New Jersey residents, even two and a half years after the event," said Donna Van Alst from Rutgers University and a co-principal investigator of the study. Van Alst noted that those who are still greatly affected by Sandy come from "across the economic spectrum."
In the Sandy Child and Family Health Study which included 1 million New Jersey residents living in the superstorm's path, the researchers found that over 100,000 residents experienced a significant damage in their primary homes.
Of these 100,000 New Jersey residents, 27 percent are going through mental health distress from moderate to severe levels. Another 14 percent also confirm experiencing signs and symptoms of PTSD.
The researchers also found that children whose homes were damaged are exposed to a higher risk of mental health problems, compared with those whose homes were not damaged. In homes with minor damages, children are four times more likely to feel depressed or sad, and more than twice as likely to experience difficulty sleeping, than those who did not suffer from any damages in the home.
Apart from mental health disorders, asthma was also one of the effects of mold brought about by Sandy.
In areas dominated by people who live in poverty, the inability to pay for repairs, mortgage or rent, utilities, transportation and food was also associated with mental health problems.
The study also noted that prior to the storm, only about a third of those living in mandatory evacuation zones actually "heeded the call to evacuate their homes."
"The state always knew recovery from Superstorm Sandy would take years," said Mary O'Dowd, New Jersey Health Commissioner. O'Dowd added that the Department of Health funded the study so they can be made aware of the current situation caused by the aftermath of Sandy and better address recovery issues.
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