As the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaches, you may be wondering how the disaster recovery process is going for those who were directly impacted. Fortunately, some people were able to address their needs with available federal resources, others had adequate insurance, and still others were lucky enough to have family, friends, and communities that rallied to provide the resources they needed. Those folks are back in their homes or have moved to new homes, made repairs, replaced their essential belongings, received disaster unemployment assistance to supplement their lost wages, and are adjusting to their new normal.

However, there are thousands of individuals and families who are still struggling.  Some families lost loved ones, and this type of loss always lingers.  Some are still displaced from their homes for various reasons, including mold, ineligibility of federal aid (due to immigration status, not adhering to flood insurance requirements after a past storm, etc.), or simply not being able to afford alternative housing. Others lost their jobs, businesses, or rental properties, and haven’t been able to regain economic sustainability. Critics look at these remaining needs and think that the government failed, that non-profits haven’t spent their funds fast enough, or that the recovery process is taking too long.  I’d like to shatter a few disaster recovery myths and provide some context, so that you can form your own opinions and adjust your expectations accordingly.

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Story by Julianne Pannelli. 
Julianne has worked in the field of disaster preparedness, response, and recovery for ten years and has served in various roles in disaster case management programs for 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and Superstorm Sandy.  She holds a Masters in Social Work from the Hunter College School of Social Work.

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