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Andrew M. Cuomo - Governor

Governor Cuomo Announces More Than 170,000 Superstorm Sandy Victims Served by 'Project Hope' Crisis Counseling Program

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Outreach-based crisis counseling program provides counseling, education, information and resources to help New Yorkers affected by Sandy move forward

Albany, NY (May 17, 2013)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that more than 170,000 New Yorkers affected by Superstorm Sandy in the hardest hit areas have received crisis counseling from the “Project Hope” program, which was launched in November 2012 following the storm through the New York State Office of Mental Health.


“More than six months after Superstorm Sandy hit New York, our Project Hope program has served over 170,000 New Yorkers affected by the storm,” Governor Cuomo said. “We have made great progress in getting our mass transit systems, homes and businesses back up and running but the impact left by Sandy still lingers because it was not just physical. Project Hope addresses the emotional and mental health needs of Sandy victims as they recover from what was a real tragedy and disaster. Today, the Project Hope program remains available to provide essential crisis counseling and other services to help New Yorkers move forward.”


Project Hope is an outreach-oriented crisis counseling program with the primary goal of assisting New Yorkers with the return to their levels of mental health and functioning from before the storm. Crisis counselors provide confidential counseling, public education and connections to much-needed resources that help survivors move forward with reconstructing their lives. The support is provided confidentially and without a charge at a time and place that is convenient for the survivor. Crisis counselors travel to community centers, places of worship, as well as private homes, to meet and talk with survivors of all ages.


Project Hope employs more than 800 New York residents hired from within the communities where they live, 676 of whom are full-time direct-service crisis counseling staff. The Project Hope staff reaches out to the most impacted areas of Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties as well as the five boroughs of New York City. Data collected by the program estimates that more than 170,000 individuals have been served in the first five months since its start up.


To date, more than $18.6 million has been awarded to the state Office of Mental Health by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the provision of Project Hope services. An additional request of $47.2 million to provide for the continued operation of Project Hope is still pending.


“Our counselors are seeing a myriad of reactions to the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy,” said Project Hope Director Ken Gnirke. “Sometimes it’s the achievement-oriented student whose grades are slipping; sometimes it’s a parent who is completely stressed because they are balancing the demands of day-to-day life while trying to recover from Sandy.”


“Our counselors are trained to help survivors understand that they are experiencing very normal reactions to very unusual circumstances and that recovery just does not have a calendar,” said Gnirke. “It’s important that people know we will continue to be in their communities in the coming months because many survivors will be experiencing reactions to Hurricane Sandy for months to come.”


Project Hope is funded by FEMA and administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA).


New Yorkers stressed by the impact of the storm can reach their local Project Hope program by calling 1-800-LIFENET. LifeNet is a free, confidential helpline for New York residents, available 24/7, with trained staff ready to listen and connect survivors to Project Hope services in their area. For more information on Project Hope, please visit:


To contact LifeNet, please call:
English: 1-800-543-3638,
Spanish: 1-877-298-3373,
Asian Languages: 1-877-990-8585
TTY: 212-982-5284


Project HOPE: Number of Individuals Served by Service Type
Region Individual/Family Crisis Counseling Encounters Group Crisis Counseling Sessions Group Public Education Sessions Total
    New York City
61,368 17,581 23,302 102,251
    Nassau County
22,444 2,264 11,347 36,055
    Suffolk County
20,040 919 8,748 29,707
    Westchester/Rockland Counties
1,515 138 1,034 2,687
Program Wide 105,367 20,902 44,431 170,700


Project Hope Staffing NYC Nassau Suffolk Rockland/ Westchester Total
Full-Time Direct-Service Crisis Counselors 388 176 92 20 676