Health concerns and perceptions of central and coastal New Jersey residents in the 100days following Superstorm Sandy

Joanna Burger, Michael Gochfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey 29-30 October 2012 (130 km/h winds), and many residents were evacuated, were without power for days to several weeks, and suffered property damages or lost their homes. The objective of this study was to understand health concerns within 100. days of this devastating storm that might improve recovery, future preparedness, and resilience. We conducted a survey of New Jersey residents in central (N=407) and shore communities (n=347) about health concerns before, during, and after Superstorm Sandy. People were interviewed at public places, town hall and FEMA meetings, health and university centers, and other gathering places. 47% of shore and 13% of central Jersey respondents evacuated. Both populations were concerned about agents of destruction, survival needs, and possessions before and during the storm, but they were mainly concerned about survival needs thereafter. During the storm, medical issues were the greatest concern for shore respondents (23%) vs secure and safe food and water (29%) for central respondents. Medical concerns increased after the storm. In the future, 42% of shore respondents would prepare more, while 51% of central residents would buy more supplies; 20% (shore) and 11% (central) would heed future evacuation warnings. Before Sandy many residents did not heed warnings and evacuation orders, but worried about property damage, while during and after their major concerns were personal and community health. Prevention of future health and property impacts could be enhanced by stronger evacuation enforcement, better preparedness information, greater attention to the possibility of prolonged power outages, and more attention to medical needs during and after a storm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-618
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 15 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


  • Anxiety
  • Concerns
  • Food security
  • Health
  • Preparedness
  • Resiliency


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