Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rebuilding your home following a disaster


More Free Advice On Building Stronger, Safer, Smarter

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Release date:  December 8, 2012      Release Number:   4086-053
TRENTON, N.J. -- Your home was damaged by Hurricane Sandy and you want to build back better. Or, maybe you have to rebuild your home completely and are looking for smart ideas to make it stronger and safer. For knowledgeable and reliable advice, look no farther than your local home improvement store.

Specialists from FEMA will be present with information that will help you rebuild stronger, safer and smarter. They have information about building techniques that can provide more protection for your home, business and property in future disasters.

This free service also offers information and publications about home improvement tips and techniques, such as:
  • Mold and mildew clean-up,
  • Flood- and wind-resistant building methods,
  • Wind straps,
  • Flood insurance,
  • Retrofitting buildings,
  • Elevating utilities.
FEMA specialists are available now through to Monday, Dec.10, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the following home improvement stores:
  • Atlantic County – Lowe’s #1034, 6048 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
  • Hudson County – Lowe’s #1937, 727 Route 440 North, Jersey City, NJ 07304
  • Monmouth County – Lowe’s #1548, 118 Highway 35, Eatontown, NJ 07724
  • Ocean County – Lowe’s #1608, 1375 Hooper Ave., Toms River, NJ 08753
  • Ocean County – Lowe’s #1535, 520 Route 70, Brick, NJ 08723
Additional sites and dates will be announced soon.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

Last Updated: 
December 8, 2012 - 16:58
State or Region:    New Jersey
Related Disaster:   New Jersey Hurricane Sandy

Trauma: Child Resiliency in Disasters


Children Vulnerable To Disaster-Related Stress

Main Content
Release date: December 8, 2012      Release Number:   4086-052
TRENTON, N.J. -- Hurricane Sandy left behind more than physical destruction. As people in New Jersey begin to rebuild, every affected family has faced a disruption of their normal lives. Many must also confront the anguish of losing a home.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the stress that follows a natural disaster, and their symptoms may linger much longer than in adults, according to mental health experts. They also react to how adults behave in stressful situations, so it’s important for parents and caregivers to look after their own mental health in the wake of a disaster.

Parents and other caregivers should be alert to signs of stress-related troubles and learn how to deal with their children’s fears and unusual behaviors.

Children ages 5 or younger may cry more frequently than usual, become clingy, have nightmares, show excessive fear of the dark, fear of animals or fear of being alone. Appetites may change. They may speak with difficulty or revert to behaviors such as bed-wetting or thumb-sucking.

Children ages 5 to 11 may exhibit increased irritability, aggression, and competition with their siblings for parental attention. Some become preoccupied with the disaster and want to talk about it continually. They may also show anxiety through whining, withdrawing from their peers, and losing interest in normal activities.

Teenagers 11 to 18 may show outright rebellion, physical problems, and sleep disturbances. They may engage in risk-taking behaviors such as reckless driving or alcohol and drug abuse.

Those signs of anxiety often result from the losses, disruption to family life, and a sense of a hostile world created by a natural disaster. The following suggestions may help to reduce stress in children:
  • Spend time each day giving each child undivided attention, even if just for a few minutes. Share experiences. Reaffirm your love. Make plans together. Just “be there” for each other.
  • Encourage them to talk. Ask children to describe what they are feeling. Let them talk about the disaster and ask as many questions as they like. Listen to what they say. Assure them that the disaster was an act of nature and not caused by them. Include the entire family in the discussion, if possible.
  • Understand their fears. It is important that parents accept anxieties as being very real to children. Help them understand what causes their anxieties and fears. Recognize their losses, such as their pets, favorite toys and other personal items. Reassure them that everything will be all right.
  • Explain what is going on. Make every effort to keep children informed about what is happening. Explanations should be in simple language. With children 5 or older, rehearse safety measures for use in case of future disasters.
  • Reassure them. Parents can help reassure children by telling them they are safe, holding and hugging them frequently, restoring normal routines, providing play experiences for them, and making bedtime a special moment of calm and comfort.
  • Encourage activities with their peers. As with adults, social time with friends is a very important part of the recovery process.
  • Temporarily lower expectations of them. Allow for the fact that stress from the disastercan show itself in many ways over a period of time, and make appropriate allowances. 
The New Jersey Department of Human Services is coordinating statewide efforts to help individuals and communities manage the emotional impact of the storm. Crisis counselors are currently providing support in many shelters and assisting in FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers as needed. 

In addition to providing face-to-face disaster crisis counseling, the state provides informational materials about coping and they partner with the Mental Health Association in New Jersey to offer assistance through a toll free helpline: 877-294-4357 (also apples to VRS or 711-Relay users)or TTY 877-294-4356. Or visit their website:

Parents, guardians and caregivers may also want to contact their local mental health agency for information on resources in their community that can assist children after disasters.

For more information call 877-652-7624, 24 hours a day, seven days a week; or visit the website

U.S. State Department: Young Leaders Inspired to Bring Change to Communities

By Kathryn McConnell | Staff Writer

07 December 2012

Woman in field (IREX)
Agnes Kwenda wants to help young mothers in her Zimbabwe community to become self-reliant.

Washington —Agnes Kwenda wants to teach young mothers in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, how to become self-reliant. She says the skills she learned at St. John’s Shelter Program for Women and Children in Sacramento, California, will help her do that.

“We’re going to do all we can to make a difference,” said Kwenda, who started the Precious Life Foundation in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city. The group she funds with her husband and community donors cares for homeless teenage mothers and their children, many iof whom have nowhere else to stay. She said community leaders are needed to step in to motivate others to provide services that are not being provided by governments.

Kwenda is one of 58 community leaders from 28 countries who participated in the four-month Community Solutions Program funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and implemented by the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), a Washington-based nonprofit organization.

Participants in the professional development program, now in its second year, were matched with nonprofit organizations and government offices across the United States where they worked with counterparts on community development projects related to women’s and environmental issues, transparency and conflict resolution. In collaboration with their U.S. hosts and with support from IREX, they also developed projects that they will implement at home during the first half of 2013, according to IREX’s Michelle Weisse.

The visiting leaders headed back to their home countries from Washington December 7 inspired to motivate others to join their efforts.

Man at table holding pen (IREX)
Angel Chitrakar brings awareness of clean energy sources to rural communities in Nepal.

Ortal Be’eri returned to the Upper Galilee Region of Israel with plans to promote dialogue between Jewish and Arab citizens in her community through training and mentorships for young women politicians from various parts of society. She’ll do that with skills she picked up at the Washington peace-building group Search for Common Ground in facilitating discussions among people with different backgrounds so they can learn what they have in common.

Winding up his four months in America, Angel Chitrakar of Katmandu, Nepal, said he will use what he learned about energy technologies at CNT Energy in Chicago to teach Nepalis, especially in rural areas, about locally available and cost-effective alternative energy sources like solar panels and improved cookstoves. He stresses that kerosene, the traditional energy source, is a safety and health hazard. Children may tip over containers of the fuel, leading to indoor fires, and people exposed to heavy indoor smoke are much more likely to develop chronic respiratory disease, he tells community members.

Chitrakar also wants to teach youth how to assemble and sell energy-efficient light bulbs, a project that will help local economies and provide youth with needed jobs, he said.

Nicholas Kaponda and Armytage Mumbwali are both bringing change to their communities in Zambia. Kaponda is the communications director of the New Dawn Non-Formal School in Ndole, which teaches young adults ages 18 to 35 skills in sustainable agriculture and entrepreneurship so they can find employment and start business cooperatives. Working with the group Cultivating Community in Portland, Maine, Kaponda said he learned how to write grant proposals and evaluate projects. In the future, he said, “We want to make sure that with every project we start, evaluation will begin right away.”

Working with the Center for Public Policy in Anchorage, Alaska, Mumbwali of Choma saw how Alaska’s elected legislators engage citizens in decisionmaking. He also learned about the technologies involved in the state’s voting system and that the public has access to legislative and other government proceedings. Mumbwali plans to use what he learned to help bridge the gap between government officials and citizen groups where he lives by bringing discussions of local issues to radio, television and meetings at schools and churches.

IREX cites the long-term impact Community Solutions will have on the visiting leaders. “Countries in transition need civic and community leaders who not only possess a vision for change, but also have the practical skills and networks that can help move their societies forward,” it says.

Read more:

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