Step by Step Help After a Disaster

Now that the worst has happened what do you do?  Immediately following a major disaster, you will likely be overwhelmed. As the initial shock wears off, you will come face to face with practical considerations. What do you need? Who can help? What should you do first?  The following information is intended to give you an overview of some of the resources you may want to consider immediately following a disaster.

Emergency Assistance

Do you need immediate help?

Listen to your radio or TV-broadcast Emergency Alert System for critical information.  The American Red Cross, Salvation Army or other voluntary organizations will help with food, shelter, healthcare and immediate medical needs


What does your insurance cover?

Contact your insurance agent to check policy coverage and file claims.  Make sure that you have put a copy of your insurance policy in your emergency preparedness kit or store in a safety deposit box.  You can also call FEMA (the federal Emergency Management Agency) to find out what help may be available in your area and how to proceed.

Recovery Assistance

Register with FEMA

Call FEMA's toll-free information and registration line:1-800-621-FEMA or TTY 1-800-621-462-7585 YOU MUST APPLY WITHIN THE 60-DAY APPLICATION PERIOD IN ORDER TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS.  In a Presidentially-declared disaster you must register in order to get any government benefits (see Commonly Asked Questions for more about Presidential disaster declarations)

Programs that may be Available Following a Serious Disaster

  • Housing Assistance
    • Grants through FEMA's Housing Assistance Programs
  • Financial Assistance (including loans)
    • Small Business Administration Loans*--For individuals, families and small businesses
    • US Department of Agriculture Loans*--For farmers and Ranchers
    • Financial Assistance Grants (average is approximately $2,500)
  • Still have serious needs?
    • Help through the American Red Cross Additional Assistance Programs

*May be available without a Presidential disaster declaration