National Guard relief support
National Guard providing relief support following severe damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Photo credit: USAF/Senior Airman Christopher S Muncy.

In 2012, as Superstorm Sandy battered her oceanfront condo in Rockaway, Queens, Daris Garnes waited out the storm inland. When she returned home the next day, she was astonished by what she saw.

Garnes: “It kind of looked like a war zone. The boardwalk had broken and it was sitting in front of the door. The sand was so high it was over the fire hydrants. My fence was just broken into pieces. It was really a horrific scene.”

Garnes says she was one of the lucky ones. She was able to move back into her condo after about two weeks. But the storm’s psychological toll wore on.

'I felt stuck and I didn't want to get back to normal routines.' Click To Tweet

Garnes: “I didn’t really know what was happening. I just knew that I just felt so bad for everybody, and I couldn’t understand why, you know, I felt stuck and I didn’t want to get back to normal routines.”

Mental health symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, are common after natural disasters. Experts caution that as extreme weather events become more frequent with climate change, the need to provide mental health support will grow.

For Garnes, coping became easier after she talked to a counselor.

Garnes: “It helps. It helps just to let some of your feelings out.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
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