Super Storm Sandy – One Year Later!

 The waters have receded, the shattered glass replaced, walls repaired and re-plastered and many homes and businesses have returned to the new normal in New Jersey and the metropolitan area. As with every traumatic event, the one-year anniversary of Super Storm Sandy, brings back memories of one the most severe weather experiences many have ever had. Of course, there were different levels of damage; physical, economic and emotional. One thing is certain for all who survived Super Storm Sandy, we will never again under estimate the enormous power of nature’s force. The fantasy that we are untouchable and that our extraordinary technology will always be available in an emergency no longer rings true.

Loss of power for weeks, limited gasoline availability, no traffic lights, cold homes, food stores closed for lack of electricity, and cell phone challenges, shook many of us to our very core of insecurity. When we finally got power, the images of the great devastation to our beautiful shores and some inlands continued to shock us. So many were locked out of their homes, businesses and towns due to unsafe conditions even after the storm ended.

As a grief counselor for over thirty years, I know that a common response to an anniversary of a loss is to review the circumstances around it and our actions at the time. We go through the possible “woulda coulda shoulda” scenarios and sometimes feel the emotions of the event as though it had just happened. This is especially true if we hold ourselves responsible for some aspect of the outcome and feel guilty.

Of course, there are amazing stories of bravery and resilience that have surfaced in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. It certainly made each of us assess what we value most and feel gratitude for all we have in our world. We often feel waves of thankfulness for those people who worked tirelessly to restore our communities and bring our spiritual and emotional lives back to equilibrium. The burden of bureaucratic paper work still haunts many who are trying return to their homes and businesses, even one year later. Even with these continuing challenges, we shouldn’t miss the many miracles of neighbor-helping-neighbor, families pulling together to accommodate those who were left without a home, and the generosity of so many sending money, equipment, food and so much more to assist those who needed a helping hand.

Much of our thoughts and feelings about our Super Storm Sandy experience is normal and expected but if you find yourself stuck in a sad mood for an extended period of time, if your sleep patterns are disturbed and you find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, or have changes in your appetite, perhaps no interest in food or over eating and your thoughts often go back to what happened during or after the storm, you may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress. There are many opportunities to get help if it is needed. It is important to reach out and not be ashamed of your reactions, even a year later. GIERS: Grief Information Education & Recovery Services, a 501c3 non-profit organization, provides a helpline for those with questions or who may need counseling and referrals. GIERS can be reached at 732-577-1076 or

GIERS: Grief Information, Education & Recovery Services is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization founded and directed by Bernice Garfield-Szita, MS, LPC, TEP and Robert Szita, MS, LPC, TEP, 9 South Main Street, Marlboro, NJ.  GIERS will provide services to assist individuals, families, and organizations recovering from a wide range of losses.  Using a variety of therapeutic modalities including creative arts and action techniques, these services will include education and counseling that will help develop coping skills to facilitate a successful transition toward a healthy recovery.  GIERS will also educate and train helping professionals and other community members to understand and aid people experiencing grief.


Flyer God Box

In this engaging one woman, one act play based on her New York Times bestselling book, Mary Lou Quinlan explores the laughter and tears of the story of a family in love, in loss and in triumph. “The God Box: A Daughter’s Story,” performed by Mary Lou and co-written with director Martha Wollner of New York City’s critically acclaimed LAByrinth Theater Company, runs 70 minutes. A talk-back session, personal book signing and reception will follow the performance.

What audience members are saying:

“‘The God Box’ gives a vibrant voice to the experience of patients and families – shining bright light on the quiet heroism of caregivers and the strength that exists in us all.”

“Indelibly etched upon my soul -so incredibly honest, heart-opening, poignant, funny- Unforgettable!”

“A great opportunity to reflect on making each day count with a loved one…truly an inspiration.”

I felt her hand on mine.

I felt her hand on mine!

Marketer. Author. Actress. Speaker. Advocate for women. From advertising director at Avon, to global ad agency CEO, to successful entrepreneur and catalyst for good works, Mary Lou is a master of reinvention.  She’s the author of four books. “The God Box” will soon be released in Brazil, China, Spain, Korea, the UK, Australia and South Africa, giving rise to a global movement, The God Box Project.

She has written for Real Simple; O, the Oprah magazine; and MORE. She was a correspondent on The CBS EARLY Show and a judge on the Simon Cowell/ABC series “American Inventor”. Mary Lou received an MBA from Fordham University and an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She lives in New York City and Bucks County, PA with her husband Joe and dog Rocky.



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