OCL hosts special After Sandy Forum at Lacey branch

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(Peter Farwell, the volunteer coordinator for the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group discusses his organization’s resources in helping those recovering from the impact of Superstorm Sandy during a special forum for Ocean County Library staff held on Oct. 29 at the Lacey branch.)

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(Ocean County Library staff gather during a special forum held Oct. 29 concerning ongoing recovery programs available through multiple county and state agencies. The well attended forum was held at the Lacey branch of the Ocean County Library.)

LACEY –  October 29 marked the first year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, an event which changed many lives through destruction of property, displacement of families and marked emotional turmoil in the lives of Ocean County residents.

Noting that the anniversary of this event was a painful reminder for many employees of the Ocean County Library, Judy Macaluso, Branch Services/Supervising Librarian and other members of the Branch Services department, organized a special forum held that morning at the Lacey branch.

The well attended program featured several guest speakers including

Karen Bright- Papeo, who serves as the Traumatic Loss Coordinator for Ocean County and the Community Outreach Liaison for Kimball Medical Center’s Psychiatric Emergency Screening Service.

Bright’s message to the 30 people who attended, was that recovery is a gradual process and that no one should feel rushed in how they feel or the pace of their own ordeal. She emphasized patience and perseverance.

“Don’t feel bad about how you feel,’’ Bright said.

“Someone once said feelings are neither good or bad they are simply there,’’ Macaluso said during the forum.

“Don’t be afraid of your feelings,’’ Bright added. “No one could have predicted what happened with Sandy. No one did anything wrong.’’

Peter Farwell, volunteer coordinator of the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group spoke about the resources his organization has to assist those coping with damage to their homes and programs for emotional support. Farwell spoke about grant programs available from the state and federal government and their status.

“Recovery is not short term. This will be going on for perhaps seven to 10 years,’’ Farwell said.

He noted that the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group was a standing organization designed to help county residents who may be impacted by tragedies beyond Superstorm Sandy.

Other speakers included representatives from Hope and Healing who have been manning listening stations at various Ocean County Library branches, hearing the concerns and fears of county residents who are still in the recovery process.

Susan Calavano of Ocean Mental Health said there were several programs designed to help those emotionally impacted by Sandy that her group was involved in.

There is a new normal, it may not be what was normal before but it does get better. It just takes time,’’ Bright said.

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