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Two years after Sandy, many still suffer emotional distress

 This October 2012 photo shows a boarded-up home in Margate N.J. (Joseph Kaczmarek/AP Photo)

This October 2012 photo shows a boarded-up home in Margate N.J. (Joseph Kaczmarek/AP Photo)

Two years after the storm, many of those hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy are still suffering psychological stress.

The Monmouth University Polling Institute interviewed more than 600 New Jersey residents whose lives were disrupted by the storm.

About 20 percent of them continue to register some type of severe emotional distress, and many have not been able to get counseling, said Patrick Murray, poll director.

“Parents are among the highest risk for post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s partially because not only do they have to get themselves back in their homes, but they’ve got to try to make life normal for their kids,” he said. “So they’ve got multiple things that they’ve got to take care of before they can take care of themselves.”

The only group of Sandy victims showing significant mental health improvement are those who have been able to move back into their homes, Murray said.

The survey finds that residents who received assistance from the Homeowner Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program to rebuild their home are more likely to get information about counseling and use those services.

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