WESTPORT, Conn., Oct. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- One year after Hurricane Sandy upended their lives, many children are still struggling with intense fears and stress brought on by the devastating storm and its aftermath, Save the Children said.
"Sandy was the most terrifying experience in the lives of thousands of children. But the day the storm struck was only the beginning of the upheaval and turmoil many children have experienced since," said Carolyn Miles, Save the Children's President & CEO.
"Children are still having nightmares and panicking when they hear the word storm. Others are depressed, acting out at school, or even causing themselves bodily harm as they struggle to cope," she said.
As the nation's leading child-focused emergency response organization, Save the Children has helped 500,000 children affected by U.S. disasters since Hurricane Katrina, including 40,000 children affected by Hurricane Sandy. The nonprofit's Westport, Conn. headquarters were seriously damaged by the storm.
"Sandy has underscored what we already know--that children are the most vulnerable when disaster strikes. And yet, our nation continues to under-invest in protecting our kids," Miles said.
Save the Children said mental health services are largely under-resourced or unequipped to meet the unique needs that large numbers of children are facing after Sandy. Additionally, hundreds of damaged child care centers across New York and New Jersey have struggled to rebuild and reopen just when children and their families need them most, the agency said. Most child care centers don't qualify for federal recovery funding.
Save the Children is working to address gaps in both these areas, but said children's needs remain great.
Putting children at even greater risk, the organization warned, investments are remarkably low in measures to protect children before disaster strikes. States have spent less than one tenth of 1 percent of federal disaster preparedness grants on children's needs in recent years, Save the Children said.
Policies to protect children are also woefully inadequate. Save the Children's recently released 2013 disaster report card reveals that most states still fail to meet four basic standards to protect children from disaster in schools and child care. New Jersey is one of only four states that took action this year to meet all four standards.
"Let's hope it doesn't take a disaster like Sandy to wake up the 28 states that still fail to adequately protect children," Miles said.
Save the Children is calling on Americans to take action to protect children – by preparing their own families and by supporting improved policies. Downloadable family and caregiver emergency checklists are available through the organization's Get Ready. Get Safe. initiative. Visitors can also find their state's disaster report card results with an option to write their governor and a video showing Sandy's impact on children.
Video with caption: "How children are coping with Hurricane Sandy, one year later." Video available at: http://youtu.be/TgTH0yYUkYM
Image with caption: "After Sandy destroyed their Brooklyn apartment and all their belongings, Maria's family slept on other people's floors for months. Her daughter, Rachel, 3, cried most nights and refused to drink milk without her favorite Dora the Explorer cup. Returning to child care has helped her recover. Credit: Save the Children." Image available at: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131023/MM02854-a
Image with caption: "Hurricane Sandy robbed children of more than just their homes. They continue to struggle with fears, upheaval and stress brought on by the storm and its aftermath. Families and caregivers can protect children before the next disaster strikes with Save the Children's emergency checklists. Credit: Save the Children." Image available at: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131023/MM02854-b
SOURCE Save the Children