SAMHSA guidance for dealing with Hurricane Sandy

NYAPRS Note: Below are some significant resources from SAMHSA for Hurricane Sandy, shared by Glenn Liebman from Mental Health Association in New York State.





FYI,  Two items  I want to bring to your attention:


I.        This was distributed this afternoon by SAMHSA


Dear State Commissioners and Disaster Coordinators,  


I am writing to you today regarding the approach of Hurricane Sandy. In an effort to prepare for this potentially destructive storm, I am sending you specific materials consolidated from our resource library that might be helpful as you work with your  state and local emergency management teams.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) supports preparedness efforts by States, Territories, and local entities to deliver an effective mental health and substance abuse (behavioral health) response to disasters. SAMHSA helps States and communities with disaster behavioral health preparedness and response issues directly and also through the SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center (SAMHSA DTAC); SAMHSA DTAC provides guidance pertaining to disaster behavioral health funding mechanisms, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP); facilitates information exchange and knowledge brokering by connecting technical assistance requestors to their peers and experts in the field, and identifies useful print and electronic materials for States and communities through its Resource Collection. For more information, please visit the SAMHSA DTAC website at You can also contact SAMHSA DTAC by emailing or calling the toll-free hotline at 1-800-308-3515.


Even with advanced warning, disasters can bring out strong emotions. The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH attachment) is the nation’s first permanent hotline dedicated to providing disaster crisis counseling. This free, confidential and multilingual, crisis support service available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week via telephone (1-800-985-5990) and SMS (Text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746) to residents who are experiencing psychological distress as a result of natural or human caused disasters. Callers are connected to trained and caring professionals from crisis counseling centers in the network. The Helpline staff provides confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services. The Helpline complements HHS, FEMA and other disaster response capacity, and is available immediately anywhere within the United States. 


In the above attachment, the disaster behavioral health resources are about preparing for and recovering from a hurricane. This includes resources for disaster response professionals as well as information focusing on the needs of special populations, such as children and youth, older adults, and those with disabilities. And because this storm is approaching areas that have previously experienced strong hurricanes, I have also provided additional information on the emotional impact of disaster anniversaries and traumatic stress reactions. 


For more disaster behavioral health resources, please visit SAMHSA’s Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series (DBHIS) at The SAMHSA DBHIS contains themed resources and toolkits in disaster behavioral health. Each resource installment is organized according to topic (which can be accessed by linking on the topic), such as the needs of a specific population (e.g., Children and Youth, Deployed Military Personnel and Their Families, Languages Other than English, Older Adults, Persons with Functional and Access Needs, Public Safety Workers, Rural Populations, and Tribal Organizations); characteristics of a specific disaster type (e.g., Disaster-Specific Resources, Pandemic Influenza, Tornadoes); and other areas pertinent to disaster behavioral health (e.g., Resilience and Stress Management).

In the event that your State should receive a Presidential disaster declaration and become eligible for Individual Assistance, we will be sure to follow up with you again to provide additional information, including how to use the CCP Application Toolkit to apply for a Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grant.


Please feel free to contact me or SAMHSA DTAC if there are any other resources that we might be able to provide that could be helpful as you prepare for the approach of this storm.


Thank you,


CDR Jamie Seligman, LMSW-C, BCD

Program Project Officer

Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS)

1 Choke Cherry Rd., Rm. 6-1136

Rockville, MD 20857 

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II.    Below are some messages from Governor Cuomo and Governor Christie:


Message from New York Governor Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today declared a state of emergency in New York in preparation for the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy, which may hit New York State in the coming days. A state of emergency mobilizes resources to local governments that otherwise are restricted to state use only and    suspends regulations that would impede rapid response.


The Governor is continuing to coordinate statewide preparation for the storm and has ordered the state's Emergency Operations Center in Albany to operate     twenty-four hours a day. At the Governor's direction, state agencies and local governments are planning cooperative response efforts. Governor Cuomo and     his administration have been in contact with local officials to coordinate preparation. The state government is communicating with the Federal Emergency  Management Agency and the National Weather Service to discuss the potential tracks of the storm.


"As we prepare for the possibility of Hurricane Sandy hitting New York State, I am activating all levels of state government to prepare for any potential impacts," Governor Cuomo said. "We are working with federal and local partners to follow storm developments and organize a coordinated response plan.  With unpredictable weather conditions, we are taking the greatest precautions - especially after our experience from last year's storms. I urge New Yorkers to plan for hurricane conditions and follow news reports to stay updated on the storm's progress."   Governor Cuomo has asked President Obama for a pre- landfall disaster declaration. This would allow for State access to funds and FEMA resources to prepare.


For the latest information on Hurricane Sandy, please visit


Message from New Jersey Governor Christie

Governor Chris Christie today directed cabinet officials to mobilize preparations for a coordinated response to the potential October storm that is trending  towards an impact on the East Coast. The Governor also urged New Jersey residents to take the time now – ahead of the storm – to activate and supply their family preparedness plans and to closely monitor the track of Hurricane Sandy.  The State Emergency Operations Center was activated at 8 a.m. today to coordinate preparations related to the storm.


“While Sandy’s exact track is still uncertain, New Jersey has the potential to experience a major impact from high winds, heavy rain, flooding and power    outages,” said Governor Christie. “That’s why it’s important from the State level on down to prepare in advance of this serious storm. The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management’s Hurricane Survival Guide is available to residents online with important information about emergency preparedness.


Now, ahead of any potential impact of Sandy, is the time for families to ensure they are prepared and are tuned in for the latest path of the storm for our    coast. I encourage all of our families to stay informed, get ready, and reach out to those you know who may be isolated, or in need of extra assistance during adverse conditions.”


For additional information on Hurricane Sandy, please visit



Dennis O. Romero, MA
Regional Administrator

Region II (NJ, NY, PR, U.S. VI))

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

26 Federal Plaza, Suite 3337

New York, New York 10278

Phone: 212-264-8097

Fax: 212-264-2673


Website: /1-877-726-4727


Behavioral Health is Essential To Health  •  Prevention Works  •  Treatment is Effective  •  People Recover