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After a Disaster

Get help after a disaster finding family and friends, temporary housing, emergency food, and tips to let people know you are safe.

Find and Notify Family and Friends After a Disaster

Find your family and friends after a disaster in the U.S. or abroad, and let people know you are safe.

Find a Missing Person After a Disaster

First, call your local law enforcement agency if family members or friends are missing after a disaster.

Let Family and Friends Know You’re Safe After a Disaster

If you are safe after a disaster, national emergency, or overseas civil unrest and want to let people know your status or reunite with family: 

Before you go abroad, enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is the State Department's free travel alert system. Using STEP, U.S. embassies can contact you or help family find you when you're traveling abroad. Get more information about what you can do to stay safe while traveling outside the U.S.   

Emergency Food and Water After a Disaster

If you need emergency food and water after a disaster, you can:

Get Food Assistance After a Disaster With D-SNAP Benefits

If the president has declared your area as a disaster zone, you may be able to get short-term financial assistance for food under the D-SNAP program. If you’re in your home, follow guidelines for food safety after a power outage or flood.

Create Safe Drinking Water After an Emergency

If you need emergency water and can’t get bottled water, you can make safe drinking water by either boiling it or disinfecting it with bleach. Boiling water is the better choice because it kills more of the bacteria that can make you sick.

  • If the water is cloudy, let it settle and then filter it through a clean cloth or coffee filter.
  • Boil water for one minute. Let it cool before storing.
  • If you can’t boil it, add 8 drops (⅛ teaspoon) of 6% unscented household liquid bleach to a gallon of water. Stir it and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  • If you don’t have bleach, look in your medicine cabinet or first aid kit for iodine. Use five drops of 2% tincture of iodine for each quart of water. You can also use water purification tablets, found at pharmacies and sporting goods stores.
  • Store water in clean containers with covers.

Emergency Help for Americans Abroad

If you’re a U.S. citizen abroad or a relative of an American citizen needing help abroad, contact the closest U.S. Embassy for assistance. You can also visit "Get Help in an Emergency" on the Department of State (DOS) website. 

Learn How the Department of State Can Help in an Emergency

Embassies can help with:

  • Natural disasters and foreign crises

  • Lost or stolen passports

  • Medical emergencies

  • Crime or arrest

  • Missing persons

  • Parental child abductions

  • Death abroad

 Learn more about the forms of assistance the Department of State (DOS) can and can't provide U.S. Citizens in a foreign crisis.

Find Help Getting Money in an Emergency Abroad

The Department of State can assist you in an emergency if you need money transferred or wired. If you have no other way to get money, you may be able to get a temporary loan through the DOS or a U.S. Embassy or consulate.

Note: If you get a loan through DOS or a U.S. Embassy or consulate, you must repay it. You can repay your loan online using Pay.gov. Call 1-800-521-2116 from the U.S. or 843-746-0592 from abroad if you have any questions.

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Last Updated: May 5, 2021

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