Winding Down Resources In Berkeley, Elsewhere A Year After Sandy

Project helps residents deal with emotional aftermath of Superstorm Sandy

by Patricia A. Miller

Use us, please.

That's been the message Cindy Hickey has been bringing to Berkeley Township Council meetings and other towns for months. The Dec. 9 meeting was no exception.

Hickey and Will Robinson are outreach representatives of New Jersey Hope and Healing, a initiative formed last year to help residents deal with the emotional aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

"We've been all over the community for pretty close to a year now," Robinson said at the meeting. "We're coming to our phase-down. We will be ending in February."

New Jersey Hope and Healing also includes teams of trained crisis counselors deployed in disaster-declared counties to provide emotional support and links to additional assistance for those in need.

Field workers from the project have been knocking on doors in Sandy-battered counties for almost a year. They leave their cards if no one answers or isn't home, Hickey has said.

Although those services are coming to an end, New Jersey Hope and Healing's resources won't go away entirely, she said.

"The resources will still be there," Hickman said. "The phone lines will be active for two years."

Residents can call toll free, for confidential behavioral health information and referral at 877-294-HELP (4357) (TTY: 877-294-4356). The phones are answered by trained counselors who assist anyone experiencing an emotional reaction.

Hickey also urged residents to attend monthly meetings of the Ocean County Long-Term Recovery Group at the Elk's Club in Toms River, or take advantage of the People's Pantry in Toms River.

The Hope and Healing project is sponsored by the state Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Disaster and Terrorism branch, through a FEMA grant in partnership with the Mental Health Association in New Jersey.


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