ALBANY, N.Y., Nov. 23 (UPI) -- An $8.2 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide counseling for New Yorkers hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, the governor said.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the New York Office of Mental Health applied for the grant which will provide outreach, crisis counseling and educational services to individuals in New York City, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
As the state continues to recover from the storm, the program will receive additional funding to expand, Cuomo said.
New York state residents experiencing emotional distress as a result of Hurricane Sandy can access free, confidential crisis counseling 24/7 by calling LifeNet 800-543-3638, Cuomo said.
"Hurricane Sandy wreaked destruction on our buildings and roads -- but the impact was not only physical," Cuomo said in a statement. "The storm turned the lives of thousands of New Yorkers upside down, inflicting damage that was also emotional and mental. Project Hope will provide mental health support for New Yorkers in the hardest hit areas of the state, and I encourage those who may be experiencing trauma or simply need to talk to someone to call for help. I thank the federal government for their assistance."
Project Hope seeks to help victims of Hurricane Sandy recognize that, in most cases, their emotional reactions are normal.
"In addition to the wholesale destruction of homes and businesses, a disaster of Sandy's magnitude leaves many survivors with overwhelming emotional wounds," said Steve Bellone, Suffolk county executive. "Providing specialized crisis counseling and comfort to the many traumatized children and families struggling to piece their lives together again is critical to the long term healing of our community."