New Jersey Association of School Psychologists

Sandy Stories

We know that crisis-response and allied teams in our schools and communities have been working their utmost to assist whomever they can.  In addition, we know that some schools and communities have encountered obstacles and have unfilled needs as a result of the storm and its aftermath.   

NJASP would like to help by gathering reports of efforts that were productive in providing support and ameliorating suffering.  Our hope is that, through sharing reports and resources, we can celebrate our successes and build our crisis response capacity for the future.  

You'll find several reports and recommended resources listed here.  We encourage anyone else, school psychologists and others, to join in by sharing your experiences and needs. 

We're looking forward to your stories and comments.  Please send them to Sol Heckelman at sandyhecno1@aol.com.

It’s been over two months since the storm and although a lot of time has passed, houses are still in ruin and families are still rebuilding.

Because we didn’t go back to school until 2 weeks after the storm, it wasn’t as fresh in most of the students minds.

I did have students not physically affected by the storm that were upset and wanted to help out. Many gave blood, joined the Red Cross Club, and volunteered at our local town shelter.

I talked to a few parents of affected students and I met with about 5 of my students that were affected by the hurricane. After receiving the master list of students I checked in on others with the premise of introducing myself first and talking about the storm when they brought it up.-- (Wish we would have had the full list sooner, known the full extent (ie lost everything including bookbag, school supplies, etc or displaced for a little while, living with fam/friends, living in town/out of town)

Laura Haney

School Counselor

Sayreville War Memorial High School

As the SAC at Sayreville Middle School, I offered supportive services to students, staff and families who were displaced or experiencing trauma as a result of the storm. 

I also provided information and resources to parents, faculty and community members which included Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event, counseling referrals, information regarding shelter, food, FEMA, disaster relief, disaster unemployment information, and donation hotline numbers, etc. 

 I also provided information about reporting utility problems, applying for Medicaid, food stamps and also provided the phone numbers for our Congressman and Senators if families were having problems getting Federal Assistance. 

I provided information in English and Spanish (the information I provided in writing).

The way I provided the above resources was through many handouts (some of the examples are attached herein), by telephone (to parents) and in person (to parents, staff, students).

Doreen Consulmagno, SAC, LPC, LCADC

Sayreville Middle School

Download resources Doreen suggests:


Disaster Assistance Quick Resource List 11_03_12.pdf

sandy help.pdf

Tips for Agencies Working with Families Impacted by Sandy.pdf

We had quite a few families displaced and affected in the Sayreville area. In one school alone we had at least 35 students displaced with some of those being from families who lost their homes permanently.

Initially as counselors we provided support to the students upon their return to school by meeting with them individually and then in small peer support groups so they would not feel soo alone in their experience. There was also a lot of initial follow up with families and outreach made to find out what their needs were and where they had relocated.

Young children in the K thru 3 age range are amazing and resilient, however, as you know there are lasting effects from this storm and there are some students who still receive supporting counseling to deal with the difficulties relating to the impact and toll the storm has taken on their families.

As a school guidance counselor I am still seeing a number of students regarding anxiety related issues connected to this experience.

On a positive note families in Sayreville have felt very supported by the community and schools as result of the efforts community members and faculty have put forth thru volunteering and fund raising to provide these families with some much needed financial support.

It would be wonderful to know that if an emergency arises in the future there are additional professional supports available for us to call upon as needed. Also, I would be extremely interested in learning of any additional training in disaster response that could be provided for school counselors. Both of these things would be very helpful resources for us to have in place.

Noreen Mahony

School Counselor

At Samsel Upper Elementary School, in response to Hurricane Sandy:

1. Individual counseling for students that were displaced due to the storm.
2. Individual/small group counseling for students to discuss their experiences.
3. Provided resources for faculty/staff as needed with regards to helping students and their own families through this traumatic event.
4. Provided outside counseling resources/ materials for family and community as needed/requested.

Our School Psychologist, Denise Steiner, PHD. also provided services and the “Giving Tree” holiday gift giving was spear-headed by our Principal, Stacey Maher, and was implemented by Adina O’Neill and Colleen Yuhas, teachers from the Samsel Upper Elementary School.

Linda Smith

SUES School Counselor

Middle School Counselors and Child Study Team members attended a  PTO meeting as “featured speakers. They discussed “Tips for Talking to your Kids”, Emergency Plans for the family, and an emergency supply list.  They also gave out the handouts and posted the information on the school’s website.

When we returned to school after the storm, they also did unofficial visits to the classrooms and cafeteria, during all lunches.  They did check-ins w/kids to see how they were holding up without power, services, etc. and asked if they needed anything. We have a few transfer students from an area that was heavily hit (likely to be here all year).

Tiffany M. Goodson

Supervisor of Guidance & School Counseling, K-12

Metuchen Public Schools

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