Catastrophic storms of the magnitude of Superstorm Sandy can contribute to significant and enduring health, economic, environmental, and social impacts. In recognition of this fact, the New Jersey State Department of Health has funded a research team from Rutgers University, New York University, Columbia University, and Colorado State University to conduct the Sandy Child and Family Health (S-CAFH) study.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND GOALS

The Sandy Child and Family Health (S-CAFH) study is a research project funded by the State of New Jersey in order to understand the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the health and well-being of children and adults, the ongoing needs of affected residents, and how well people and households are recovering.

The primary objectives of the S-CAFH study are to:

  1. document the physical and mental health needs of populations affected by the storm, with a including the storm’s impact on children;
  2. chronicle the recovery and housing transitions experienced by New Jersey residents who experienced Sandy;
  3. analyze the types of services that people needed and received, and to understand unmet needs or service gaps which may still exist; and
  4. consider the paths to recovery experienced by diverse populations affected by the storm.

Study Design and Timeline

The S-CAFH study, among the largest in the region, recruited a random sample of 1,000 New Jersey residents from those areas in the state that experienced: a) storm surges; b) flooding; and/or c) substantial property damages. The research team randomly select households from these hard-hit areas. Interviewers then surveyed one adult per household.

To be eligible, selected residents had to be the primary household resident at the time of the storm. The S-CAFH interviewing team surveyed 1,000 randomly selected households within the 9 most affected counties in New Jersey, including the North Jersey counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex and Union, and the South Jersey counties of Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth and Ocean.

Community-based interviewers conducted face-to-face surveys with the 1,000 adult members of the selected New Jersey households in the study. The survey instrument covered such topics as the decisions households made related to both evacuation and recovery issues, to their health and well-being, and to the help they have sought or received. In addition to learning about the adult(s) in the household, the team also asked specific questions about children living in the home, to learn of any long-term impacts the storm may have had on young people.

Project Funder: State of New Jersey Department of Health

Project Principal Investigators: David Abramson, Global Institute of Public Health, New York University, Donna VanAlst, School of Social Work, Rutgers University, Jaishree Beedasy, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, Patricia Findley, School of Social Work, Rutgers University, Lori Peek, Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis, Colorado State University.

Research Team: Amber Kizewski, Meghan Mordy, Kylie Pybus, Alyssa Stephens, and Jennifer Tobin-Gurley, Colorado State University; Alexis Merdjanoff and Rachael Piltch-Loeb, New York University; Jonathan Sury, Columbia University; Sandra Moroso and Kerrie Ocasio, Rutgers University.

Project Timeline: June 2014 – June 2015

Publications:

2015

Abramson, David, Donna Van Alst, Alexis Merdjanoff, Rachael Piltch-Loeb, Jaishree Beedasy, Patricia Findley, Lori Peek, Meghan Mordy, Sandra Moroso, Kerrie Ocasio, Yoon Soo Park, Jonathan Sury, Jennifer Tobin-Gurley. “The Hurricane Sandy Place Report: Evacuation Decisions, Housing Issues and Sense of Community.” The Sandy Child and Family Health Study. Rutgers University School of Social Work, New York University College of Global Public Health, Columbia University National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Colorado State University Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis, Briefing Report 2015_1.

Abramson, David. Donna Van Alst, Alexis Merdjanoff, Rachael Piltch-Loeb, Jaishree Beedasy, Patricia Findley, Lori Peek, Meghan Mordy, Sandra Moroso, Kerrie Ocasio, Yoon Soo Park, Jonathan Sury, Jennifer Tobin-Gurley. “The Hurricane Sandy Person Report: Disaster Exposure, Health Impacts, Economic Burden, and Social Well-Being.” Sandy Child and Family Health Study, Rutgers University School of Social Work, New York University College of Global Public Health, Columbia University National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Colorado State University Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis , Briefing Report 2015_2.

Media Coverage:

"Rutgers Faculty Examines Superstorm Sandy Effects in Social Work Study" The Daily Targum

"CSU Researchers Contribute to Landmark Study on Superstorm Sandy" Source

"Superstorm Sandy Child and Family Health Study Finds Lingering Effects of Mental Health Distress, PTSD and Depression" Rutgers Today

"Ongoing Recovery Efforts Take Mental Health Toll on Sandy Survivors" NYU News

"Report: Health Effects of Hurricane Sandy Still Linger" Philadelphia Inquirer

"Superstorm Sandy's Toll on Mental Health" New York News

"N.J. ‘Still in Recovery’ from Superstorm Sandy’s Mental Health Issues" Bergen County Record

"Study Reveals the Hidden Toll on Superstorm Sandy Victims" Star-Ledger