Dr. Anthony Ng Submitted photo

A national expert on dealing with community disasters said Monday that it’s going to take a long while for people affected by the mass shooting in Lewiston last month to heal.

“Folks need to be patient and understanding,” said Dr. Anthony Ng, medical director for community services at Northern Light Acadia Hospital in Bangor. “It’s really early.”

In coping with trauma, he said, “Everyone has a different timeline and there’s no timeline that’s the right timeline.”

Ng, a psychiatrist, said it will help that Mainers are a supportive, caring group of people who look out for one another — and that’s crucial.

“It’s important to watch out for one another,” said Ng, a widely published expert on disaster psychiatry and disaster mental health. He is a past chairman of the Coalition for Psychiatric Emergencies and the former president of the American Association for Emergency Psychiatry.

He said every community slammed with an unexpected crisis struggles to cope with disaster, such as the Oct. 25 shooting at two Lewiston entertainment venues that left 18 dead and 13 injured.


Ng said that while Lewiston is “in the middle of it,” everyone in a close-knit, small state like Maine is feeling the grief and trauma of the shooting.

He said that keeping “a stiff, upper lip” in the face of so much heartache is “not healthy,” and urged people to reach out to one another and to counselors available to assist them.

Ng, who has worked closely with many government agencies and nonprofits such as the American Red Cross, said he has spoken with officials working to organize the response in Lewiston based on what’s worked in other communities.

One of his research papers examined how fundraisers in the wake of a disaster can spur conflict.

He said Lewiston can help avoid that by figuring out carefully where money should go and who should be partners for the spending in order to avoid redundancy. He also said the cash doesn’t have to be spent quickly.

Ng said people who are hit the hardest will eventually find the strength to return to their daily routines and ways of making ends meet.


He said communities that have undergone a shocking event generally develop resiliency over time and Lewiston will keep moving forward.

Even so, he said, there are going to be people who remain numb from what they’ve gone through. They’ll need more assistance, Ng said.

“People are going to heal at different rates,” he said.

Ng said political figures need to provide “stability and guidance” as they steer a community through a crisis. People look to them to lead, he said, and doing so effectively is “an important piece” of bouncing back.

He said about the time a first-year anniversary rolls around, people will begin to reach “conclusions about what they went through together.”

“As tough as it feels right now, the community will get better and get stronger,” Ng said.


Ng was appointed last week as one of seven members of the Independent Commission to Investigate the Facts of the Tragedy in Lewiston created by Gov. Janet Mills to look into the facts surrounding the shooting.

At the time, he said in a prepared statement that he would “draw on my deep experience as a psychiatrist working with communities impacted by horrific crises, including mass shootings, to determine the facts surrounding the October 25th shootings.”

The American Psychiatric Association awarded him the 2023 Bruno Lima Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the care and understanding of the victims of disaster, which include his help dealing with the Asian tsunamis in 2004 and the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012.

Ng said he couldn’t comment on the commission, which hasn’t yet met.

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