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Entries in nor'easter (2)

Wednesday
Nov072012

Nor'easter Stress Is Normal for Sandy Survivors

EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- At the height of superstorm Sandy, Jane Frank clung to her husband and three boys as the water rose. It flooded their basement and rose as high as the first floor of their Belle Harbor home in the Rockaway section of Queens. Despite the pounding rains and gusting winds, they were forced to open the upstairs windows because the smell of gas from leaks and fires in the area made it difficult to breathe.

Now their house is uninhabitable. She's relocated her family a hundred miles away to her parent's summer home in upstate New York.

And Frank said she's feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. The nor'easter that bore down on the area Wednesday made her particularly anxious.

"With another storm coming in I feel like we are up against a clock," she said. "We're terrified it will set things back and it'll take even longer to get back home."

Simon Rego, the director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, said Frank's anxiety over the incoming weather is perfectly normal, considering what she's been through.

"People's brains are wired with a radar system that helps them look out for potential threats," he said. "It makes sense that after going through a traumatic event like a natural disaster we're primed to react to similar events."

Frank probably isn't the only one who's feeling nervous about the incoming storm system. Rego said anyone who weathered the worst of Sandy may already be suffering from acute stress disorder, a precursor to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Looking up at the storm clouds may make them feel anxious, fearful and depressed, he said, or they may feel a sense of emotional detachment to what's going on around them. They may have trouble sleeping and eating – or may they sleep too much and overeat. They may become obsessed with news reports about the storm or go to great lengths to avoid them altogether. Headaches, stomach upsets and other physical ailments are also typical symptoms of stress.

"For someone who has experienced Sandy, they may fear the worst is yet to come with this new storm," Rego said.

According to Rego, it's natural to feel worried about a storm coming in right on the heels of a superstorm. For people who've recently gone without power, heat, water -- or a place to live -- it brings up legitimate concerns.

But there are ways to help oneself. Rego said it's important to keep things in perspective by recognizing Sandy was a storm of historical proportions and a very rare event.

"Try to balance the extreme negative thoughts with more reality-based thoughts. There will be snow and wind this time around, but nothing that's predicted will be on the same scale as what Hurricane Sandy gave us," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov072012

Post-Sandy Nor'easter Poses Hypothermia Risk

Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As those facing the devastation left in the wake of superstorm Sandy continue to seek shelter, meteorologists point to a new threat -- a nor'easter heading for devastated areas.

The storm could pack 50 mph gusts in coastal areas, 1 to 3 inches of rain from New York to Boston and a continuation of the frigid temperatures that followed last week's superstorm.

It's a situation that has some doctors worried that many of those affected by Sandy could face a life-threatening situation in the form of hypothermia.

"Many left without power and heat will be at risk of hypothermia as the nor'easter is scheduled to hit the New York City and New Jersey area," said Dr. Sharon Horesh Bergquist, assistant professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

The strong wind and rain is expected to hit the New Jersey and New York coast early Wednesday morning.  Some models are also predicting a 40-50 percent chance of snow in the metro New York area by Wednesday night, and winds up to 40 mph are expected to continue into Thursday.

The Red Cross is increasing efforts in New York, offering shelter to roughly 9,000 people and handing out an additional 80,000 blankets Monday night -- a clear indication of where the organization's concerns lie when it comes to those without heat or shelter.

"Certainly one of our biggest concerns is the cold, because you have people without power," said Red Cross spokeswoman Melanie Pipkin.  "We're ramping up our efforts so these people have even more blankets, more hand warmers.  We really want to make sure everyone stays warm."

Hypothermia occurs when the body's temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  This puts people at risk to develop serious lung, heart, or nervous system problems, sometimes leading to death.

Symptoms of hypothermia include appearing confused or intoxicated or shivering, although shivering actually stops at severely cold body temperatures.

"As people get colder, they actually stop shivering, losing their ability to retain any heat," said Dr. Darria Gillespie, emergency physician at Harvard Medical School in Boston.  "They may also almost appear intoxicated, with confusion, clumsiness, slurred speech, and fatigue."

In the most serious of cases, the potential complications from hypothermia can be severe, even fatal.

"The complications can range from minor cold related illness to death from prolonged exposure or complications from prolonged exposure," said Dr. Henderson McGinnis, emergency physician at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The very young and very old may be at the highest risk.

"The elderly often have difficulty with thermoregulation and infants have a relatively larger body surface area thus are at increase heat loss risk," said Dr. Christopher Russi, emergency physician at the Mayo Clinic.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio