Bishop Stokes on the Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy

Contributed by: The Rt. Rev. William H. Stokes, Bishop of New Jersey

A Statement from Bishop Stokes on the 9th Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy Making Landfall in New Jersey

Dear People and Friends of the Diocese of New Jersey,

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 1 Peter 3:8

Nine years ago today, New Jersey and other parts of the Eastern Shore were devastated by Superstorm Sandy, which killed 233 people in total, 37 in New Jersey. Sandy caused $70 billion in destruction and damages, dislocating people and forever changing lives. Today is a day when we should remember that there are those who have not yet recovered from Superstorm Sandy and hold them in our prayers.

Moreover, in a communication released today, New Jersey VOAD Executive Director Keith Adams, who served in a critical role as the Diocese of New Jersey’s Disaster Response Coordinator in the years immediately following Sandy, urges us all, not only to remember Sandy and its long-term effects, but to also be mindful that 75,000 households in New Jersey have filed for assistance from FEMA as a result of damage from Hurricane Ida, which struck at the end of August.

Keith Adams writes:

Many of you are either helping or discerning how you can help survivors. Maybe you are beginning formation of a long-term recovery organization. Perhaps you are wondering what resources are available to support survivors. I am personally inviting you to join with statewide and local partners to cooperate, communicate, coordinate, and collaborate on recovery efforts in your community and statewide to assist survivors and communities recovering from Ida by participating in our Ida Recovery Collaborations.

I support this effort. For more information, please see Keith’s full message here. I also want us to remember Episcopal Relief and Development (E.R.D.), which offered enormous help and support to the Diocese of New Jersey throughout the Sandy experience as they do across the nation and around the world whenever disasters strike. I am a regular donor to E.R.D. and invite you to be one as well.

Earlier this week, I participated in a workshop with interfaith clergy. The workshop was led by Dr. Betsy Stone, a renowned psychologist and professor at Hebrew Union College in New York, who addressed the challenges of trauma.

She defined trauma as “the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel a full range of emotions and experiences.” Moreover, she stated, “new traumas always pull up old traumas.”

Over the last 19 months, we have all been experiencing greater or lesser degrees of trauma related to the COVID19 pandemic. For those who were impacted by Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Ida, this is trauma upon trauma. It’s important to be aware of this and to gauge how one is responding. As Dr. Stone made clear, we don’t get over trauma, we get through it and manage it.

If you feel you are having difficulty managing the stress and trauma generated by COVID19, Hurricane Ida, Superstorm Sandy, or just the course of personal life events, please be gentle with yourself and seek help. The Episcopal Spiritual and Mental Health Crisis Ministry has valuable resources that may help. You can find them here.

And again, let us pray for those who were devastated by Superstorm Sandy on this sad anniversary.

Blessings and peace in Christ,

Bishop Stokes's Signature

The Right Reverend William H. Stokes
12th Bishop of New Jersey