Hurricane Sandy Recovery: By the Numbers

Nov 19, 2012, 11:17 AM

As the recovery efforts continue in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, NewPublicHealth is following the work of local and state health departments in the areas affected by the storm as they help their citizens regroup, recover and build community resilience. 

Three weeks after the storm the New York City Health Department has meaningful storm-related health use data that is valuable for both current health services delivery and future disaster planning:

  • Emergency room visits for both mental and physical health concerns in New York City dropped on the day of the storm but have now returned to typical levels.  
  • There was a brief increase in cases of hypothermia immediately after the storm but no sustained increase since then.  
  • There is a continuing modest increase in visits for prescription medicine refills.
  • There has not been an increase in injuries or illnesses overall.  
  • There has been a modest increase in asthma emergencies in the Rockaway section of New York, which was especially hard hit by flooding and storm debris during the period immediately following the storm, but rates seem to have returned to baseline. According to the health department, the increases likely were caused by people living in cold temperatures, using their stoves to heat their homes, dust from storm clean-up and reduced access to prescription medication for some people during the first days of the storm.  


A large percentage of New York City residents have had their power restored and are back at home, but tens of thousands are still facing heating, financial and housing crises. The city announced this past weekend that hundreds of homes will have to be destroyed because their damage was so great, and many were not covered by insurance.

Last Thursday, the New York City Mayor’s Office announced “Project Restore,” seven restoration centers located in hard-hit communities to connect residents and businesses impacted by the storm with financial, health, environmental, nutritional and residential services, and access to reimbursement processing from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). Restoration centers include mobile health and mental health clinics operated by the health department, created to manage health needs in impacted areas. The most common request at clinics is for medication refills, and clinic staff is also administering flu and tetanus vaccines.

>>Bonus Link: The New York City health department regularly updates health and safety recommendations in the storm’s aftermath on its twitter feed, @nycHealthy.


This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.