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The Hurricane Sandy Place Report: Evacuation Decisions, Housing Issues and Sense of Community

Abramson, David M.; Van Alst, Donna; Merdjanoff, Alexis; Piltch-Loeb, Rachael; Beedasy, Jaishree; Findley, Patricia; Peek, Lori Ann; Mordy, Meghan; Moroso, Sandra; Ocasio, Kerrie; Park, Yoon Soo; Sury, Jonathan; Tobin-Gurley, Jennifer

Hurricane Sandy was one of the largest storms on record, sweeping through the eastern seaboard of the United States with a massive diameter twice the size of Hurricane Katrina. Although wind speeds did not match those of Katrina, the combination of high tide at landfall and the lunar phase resulted in exceptionally high storm surges. Catastrophic storms such as Hurricane Sandy can have devastating effects on many aspects of human life and the environment, undermining economic activity, crippling critical infrastructure, and disrupting hundreds of thousands of lives for weeks, months, or even years. The Sandy Child and Family Health (S-CAFH) Study was designed to describe and analyze the impacts of the storm on the residents of New Jersey, identifying those needs which emerged and those which are still pressing. The research team – a partnership of faculty and research staff from Rutgers University, New York University, Columbia University, and Colorado State University – randomly selected and surveyed 1,000 residents of New Jersey’s “Disaster Footprint,” representing the experiences of 1 million New Jersey residents living in or near those coastal areas of the state most directly exposed to the storm. The primary focus of this Briefing Report, the first in a series of four thematic reports, is to document the storm’s impact on PLACE in New Jersey residents’ lives, with a particular emphasis on Sandy’s effect on people’s homes and housing decisions.

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This report is part of the 2015 Briefing Report Series of the Sandy Child and Family Health (S-CAFH) Study, a project designed to survey the impact of Hurricane Sandy on several key aspects of New Jersey residents’ lives. Four briefing reports will be provided by the team that cover the following topics: (1) The Place Report – the decisions and actions related to evacuation, housing, community, and restoration and repair; (2) The Person Report – the physical and mental health status and well-being of residents who lived in areas exposed to Hurricane Sandy, with an additional focus on children’s health; (3) The Problems Report – residents’ current unmet needs and their experience with systems of formal help; and (4) The Progress Report – the factors associated with stalled or facilitated recovery among affected residents.

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