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After A DisasterItems You May Need After a DisasterHere is a starter list of some things you should buy or look into after a disaster. Emergency and Disaster ServicesHere are links to organizations and resources that provide assistance and information in an emergency or natural disaster.How Social Workers Help Disaster SurvivorsWe interviewed, received advice and gathered ideas from social workers around the country to give you an idea of what social workers do and how they help after a disaster or fire.Dial 2-1-1 for Community HelpYou've heard about 9-1-1 and 4-1-1, now there's 2-1-1, a number dedicated to connecting people with helpful community services and volunteer opportunities.How Disasters Are DeclaredA major disaster could result from a hurricane, earthquake, flood, tornado or major fire. The event must be clearly more than state or local governments can handle alone. Temporary Housing Data SheetDepending upon the damage, you may be staying in your home, a friend's home, a hotel, or a shelter. Should you need temporary housing, here is a brief form for you to write down your temporary housing details.FEMA Disaster Recovery CentersDisaster Recovery Centers are temporary centers set up in a federal disaster area, helping local residents through the federal assistance application process and also offer recovery advice.Water Quality and Safety PrecautionsWhen it comes to food and water, err on the side of contamination until you know better. (In other words, guilty until proven innocent.)Federal Food Safety GuidelinesHas your fridge or freezer turned off and the food is still inside? Apply the golden rule for food safety: "If In Doubt, Throw It Out." Below are general food safety and cleaning tips from the government's food safety guidelines.Contacting Others After a Disaster or TraumaThe most important thing to realize is that you are safe. Now, let others know how you are — and where you are.Disaster Assistance TimelineHere is a timeline breaking down how your local emergency management services, first responders and other organizations will respond after a natural disaster. Disaster Relief Financial Assistance OptionsExperts we've interviewed say that the severity of a natural disaster affects the time it takes to receive financial assistance.Handling Emotional and Physical Stress After a DisasterNatural disasters cause emotional and physical stress — and a host of reactions including anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, sadness, anger, fatigue, hopelessness, irrational fears, and nightmares.FEMA Common Misconceptions about Disaster AidHere are some common misconceptions about FEMA from FEMA.FEMA Questions to AskAs with an insurance agent, these questions for FEMA officials may confirm what you already know, or may help you understand what processes, timelines and what federal aid is available.FEMA Types of Disaster AidThe following information is from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).Filing for Federal Disaster ReliefFederal Disaster Relief is available after the President issues a disaster declaration for your area. Visit FEMA's (Federal Emergency Management Agency) site, to see if a disaster declaration has been made in your area.Helping Others Hit by DisasterImmediately or soon after an emergency or natural disaster, many people want to help. Here are some tips to help you help others. Review these, be safe, be smart.About the American Red CrossThe American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization led by volunteers, with a mission to provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.In the News How to Get Disaster InformationMedia web sites are good resources for local information, breaking news and weather updates during and after natural disasters. Here are some ways to use the media to your best advantage.In the News Reporting on DisastersAfter a major disaster — fire, natural disaster or other catastrophe — the media will mostly like arrive on the scene. Here's what to know.Tax Tips After a DisasterAfter a disaster, fire or other major loss, bills and expenses can pile up quickly. Luckily, there are some IRS forms you can complete to receive immediate help and possibly get additional tax relief over the next few years. Who Will Help You After a Disaster?After a storm, local and regional authorities — such as police officers, firefighters, ambulance services and state or municipal service workers — may be dispatched to severely affected areas. Here's what to know.

Helping Others Hit by Disaster

Immediately or soon after an emergency or natural disaster, many people want to help. Here are some tips to help you help others. Review these, be safe, be smart.

Don't Rush to the Scene

After a flood, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, fire or another major crisis, the scene will be staffed with first responders, law enforcement and trained volunteer workers. Extra people will hinder rescue and recovery efforts and, despite your good intentions, you might put yourself (and others) in harm's way.

Check web sites of local, state and federal officials that may also have information on road conditions, curfews and happenings in your area. Pay close attention to instructions from emergency management and law enforcement agencies.

Wait at least 24 hours before acting — organizations that need your help will be better organized and more able to find the right fit for your skills.Tasks may include handling phone calls, running errands or completing other administrative duties.

Listen to the local media: if they ask you to stay away from the disaster area, stay away.

If you are needed, bring your own drinking water, food and sleeping gear.

Contact Relief Organizations

Check your local media. TV, radio, newspapers – and their websites. They have the latest information, contact details and locations of relief organizations and efforts in your area.

Tell the agencies how you would like to help (donation, blood, your services, etc.) and what special skills you have (computer, language, organizational, first aid or disaster training, accounting, etc.).

If you are volunteering your time, let them know when and how long you are available (afternoons, a few days, weeks, etc.).

If they do need your help, follow their instructions.

If they do not need your help at the moment, ask if you should call back in a few days or weeks.

Other Ways to Help

Donate money. Donate money to a recognized relief organization like your local American Red Cross chapter. Do not donate food, clothing or other personal items unless they are specifically requested.

Make a difference through travel. Check out our article on Voluntourism [WHN page link TK] for details on how you can give back while traveling around the country or the globe.

Offer assistance to other families/caregivers. In large-scale disasters or highly emotional events, help a neighbor who may require special assistance. People who care for them or who have large families may need additional assistance in emergency situations.

Talk with your children. Explain to them what has happened and how they can help during the recovery. Being involved will help them deal with the situation.

Plan Ahead

If you want to be involved in volunteer or disaster recovery first responder efforts, consider joining a volunteer group.  Many organizations have established networks and training programs specifically for disaster response.

Here's a list of organizations to start with to find what best suits you. E-mail us if you have other organizations to suggest.

Popular Disaster Relief Volunteer Organizations

American Red Cross (to find your local chapter)

America's Second Harvest

Citizen Corps and CERT Teams

Humane Society of the United States

National Organization for Victim Assistance

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster

Points of Light and Hands On Network

United Way of America

Volunteers of America

Faith-Based Organizations

Catholic Charities USA

Church of the Brethren

Church World Service

Episcopal Relief and Development

Habitat for Humanity

International Orthodox Christian Charities

Lutheran Disaster Response

Mennonite Disaster Service

North American Mission Board (Southern Baptist)

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

The Salvation Army

Seventh Day Adventist

Society of St. Vincent de Paul

United Church of Christ

United Methodist Relief

After A DisasterItems You May Need After a DisasterHere is a starter list of some things you should buy or look into after a disaster. Emergency and Disaster ServicesHere are links to organizations and resources that provide assistance and information in an emergency or natural disaster.How Social Workers Help Disaster SurvivorsWe interviewed, received advice and gathered ideas from social workers around the country to give you an idea of what social workers do and how they help after a disaster or fire.Dial 2-1-1 for Community HelpYou've heard about 9-1-1 and 4-1-1, now there's 2-1-1, a number dedicated to connecting people with helpful community services and volunteer opportunities.How Disasters Are DeclaredA major disaster could result from a hurricane, earthquake, flood, tornado or major fire. The event must be clearly more than state or local governments can handle alone. Temporary Housing Data SheetDepending upon the damage, you may be staying in your home, a friend's home, a hotel, or a shelter. Should you need temporary housing, here is a brief form for you to write down your temporary housing details.FEMA Disaster Recovery CentersDisaster Recovery Centers are temporary centers set up in a federal disaster area, helping local residents through the federal assistance application process and also offer recovery advice.Water Quality and Safety PrecautionsWhen it comes to food and water, err on the side of contamination until you know better. (In other words, guilty until proven innocent.)Federal Food Safety GuidelinesHas your fridge or freezer turned off and the food is still inside? Apply the golden rule for food safety: "If In Doubt, Throw It Out." Below are general food safety and cleaning tips from the government's food safety guidelines.Contacting Others After a Disaster or TraumaThe most important thing to realize is that you are safe. Now, let others know how you are — and where you are.Disaster Assistance TimelineHere is a timeline breaking down how your local emergency management services, first responders and other organizations will respond after a natural disaster. Disaster Relief Financial Assistance OptionsExperts we've interviewed say that the severity of a natural disaster affects the time it takes to receive financial assistance.Handling Emotional and Physical Stress After a DisasterNatural disasters cause emotional and physical stress — and a host of reactions including anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, sadness, anger, fatigue, hopelessness, irrational fears, and nightmares.FEMA Common Misconceptions about Disaster AidHere are some common misconceptions about FEMA from FEMA.FEMA Questions to AskAs with an insurance agent, these questions for FEMA officials may confirm what you already know, or may help you understand what processes, timelines and what federal aid is available.FEMA Types of Disaster AidThe following information is from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).Filing for Federal Disaster ReliefFederal Disaster Relief is available after the President issues a disaster declaration for your area. Visit FEMA's (Federal Emergency Management Agency) site, to see if a disaster declaration has been made in your area.Helping Others Hit by DisasterImmediately or soon after an emergency or natural disaster, many people want to help. Here are some tips to help you help others. Review these, be safe, be smart.About the American Red CrossThe American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization led by volunteers, with a mission to provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.In the News How to Get Disaster InformationMedia web sites are good resources for local information, breaking news and weather updates during and after natural disasters. Here are some ways to use the media to your best advantage.In the News Reporting on DisastersAfter a major disaster — fire, natural disaster or other catastrophe — the media will mostly like arrive on the scene. Here's what to know.Tax Tips After a DisasterAfter a disaster, fire or other major loss, bills and expenses can pile up quickly. Luckily, there are some IRS forms you can complete to receive immediate help and possibly get additional tax relief over the next few years. Who Will Help You After a Disaster?After a storm, local and regional authorities — such as police officers, firefighters, ambulance services and state or municipal service workers — may be dispatched to severely affected areas. Here's what to know.