Tuesday, October 29 marks the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which killed 117 Americans and wreaked havoc on homes and businesses along the East Coast. Over the past 12 months, millions have worked tirelessly to help Sandy’s victims recover. We at The Dr. Oz Show surveyed 162 of our viewers to see what effect those efforts have had. Our surprising results show that while the recovery process continues, the storm has bound many people closer to their communities and spurred many people to improve their health.
There’s no doubt that the storm took its toll. Fifty-four percent of respondents suffered property damage from the storm, and 65% reported that they suffered mental or emotional distress because of Sandy. Approximately one in ten people reported suffering physical harm.
But in the face of this adversity, people bound together. Three quarters of people reported that they helped at least one person affected by the storm. “Everyone helped one another,” wrote one person, whose home was severely damaged. “I had a wagon that I used for my kids and my children and I would go to the local relief centers and bring back supplies for those in need.”
Several others opened their homes to families displaced by the storm. One respondent said, “We let our next door neighbors move into our upstairs apartment which wasn’t affected by Hurricane Sandy. Their home was destroyed and had to be gutted.” Even more people donated money, food and clothes, provided medical care, prepared meals for stranded neighbors and strangers, helped clean up debris and trash and helped rebuild houses.
Over half of people reported they also received help from someone else, and their comments overflowed with expressions of gratitude. “Many people helped give my four kids Christmas and made sure they had clothes after we lost our home. And Santa came on Christmas Eve and delivered the gifts personally,” shared one respondent. Another wrote “I had a tree through my house and many neighbors that offered me a bed to sleep in, a huge tarp to cover the roof and others to help secure it. I was so blessed.” No wonder 66.5% of people reported feeling closer to their communities because of the storm.
The storm and its aftermath also prompted many people to take a second look at their health. About 44% of people said they had made personal changes in their lives to improve and protect their health as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Changes made include everything from “taking steps to strengthen my family’s and my immune system” to “running more” to seeking help from a mental health professional. Others said they took extra steps to make sure that medicines, health supplies and batteries were ready and easily accessible in case of emergency.
I was thrilled to see that nearly half of people said they had made an effort to improve their diet and their fitness as a result of their experience during the storm. Potentially as a result, one in four people reported feeling healthier today than they did after the storm. And while many still experience anxiety related to the storm, four out of five people said they are now more confident in their ability to handle difficult situations. The storm seems to have inspired many people to have more faith in themselves.
The tide is only starting to turn for some. But admirably, our respondents’ struggles during the storm have not dampened their optimism for the future. About 92% of people plan to take steps to improve their health in the next 12 months and over 90% believe they will be better off 12 months from now than they are today. One person wrote “During the past 12 months we were eating out of pantry and donations of processed food, and as much as we appreciated it, it really was not the best for our health. I noticed my kids gaining weight, but now that things are starting to fall into place I’m looking forward to living a better lifestyle.” Hope is thriving even a whole year after the storm.
For me, one comment in particular really sums up both the challenge and the opportunity Sandy set forth for many. “I just moved back home,” one person wrote. “The last year, I took care of my house. The next year I’m taking care of myself.”