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Crisis Counselors to Aid in Seaside Boardwalk Fire

Seaside Park and Heights business owners and residents impacted by Thursday’s devastating boardwalk fire, less than a year after Hurricane Sandy, will be able to meet with crisis counselors this week.

Rubble from the boardwalk fire in Seaside Heights
Rubble from the boardwalk fire in Seaside Heights (Matthew White, Townsquare Media NJ)

The Christie Administration has announced help will be available tomorrow and Tuesday, and into the week if necessary, at the Seaside Heights Community Center at Bay and Hancock Avenues, from 3 to 9 pm.

Jennifer Velez, Commissioner of the state Department of Human Services, says “People still recovering from the stresses caused by Sandy are now experiencing more trauma, and likely will need some emotional support.”

The Department of Human Services oversees the Disaster and Terrorism Branch and deploys crisis counselors and the New Jersey Hope and Healing Program.

“So many of these residents have just gone through an extended period of anxiety and uncertainty, and now, the fire. We expect they will need emotional support,” says DTB Director Adrienne Fessler-Belli. “Many business owners already have seen their livelihood threatened and may be facing more losses.”

Thursday’s wind-swept fire damaged a four-block area, impacting more than 50 businesses.

“Our citizens and business owners in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park have barely been able to come up for air in the last year, first with the destruction caused by

Superstorm Sandy and now this heartbreaking blow from a fire that destroyed numerous businesses along several blocks of the boardwalk that is part of the fabric of the Jersey Shore,” says “Ocean County Freeholder Director John Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. “The cooperative effort with the local towns, the county’s Department of Human Services, state agencies including Hope and Healing and the Red Cross to provide crisis counseling to our residents and business owners will surely be welcome and helpful.”

Rubble on the boardwalk looking south from Lincoln Avenue
Rubble on the boardwalk looking south from Lincoln Avenue (Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media NJ)

According to research, anxiety and depression can increase as people experience a prolonged disaster recovery and the return to regular routine is delayed. Symptoms can include: anxiety, a feeling of hopelessness, depression, sadness, inability to concentrate, insomnia, isolation and grief, nightmares, flashbacks, and new or worsening health problems.

“Following two large disasters in this community within 12 months, The American Red Cross wants to let the community know our resources are available for them. One of these resources includes our Disaster Mental Health Unit to help individuals employ their own coping skills and resources to deal with these extremely stressful and tragic circumstances. We are there to help with problem solving, make referrals when necessary, and provide information,” said Dr. Raymond Hanbury, a clinical psychologist who serves as the American Red Cross’ New Jersey State Lead for Disaster Mental Health. “These disasters have affected the lives of this community in South Jersey. When facing such devastation and disruption, one may find themselves in need of emotional support and accurate information to start the road to recovery again. We are there to provide whatever assistance we can offer in order to cope with the challenges they may face during this very trying time.”

For more information about New Jersey Hope and Healing, call 1-877-294-HELP (4357).

For the Disaster Mental Health Helpline: 1-877-294-HELP (4357).

For clinical mental health services, a confidential helpline: 1-855-HOPE4U1.

For more information about New Jersey Hope and Healing, call 1-877-294-HELP (4357).

For the Disaster Mental Health Helpline: 1-877-294-HELP (4357).

For clinical mental health services, a confidential helpline: 1-855-HOPE4U1.

 

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