This infographic tells you what to do after a disaster.
What to do after a disaster: File an insurance claim for your home and flood insurance as soon as possible. Check on your neighbors. Call 911 if you are in need of rescue. Donate your time or money to support survivors.
If you need emergency food and water after a disaster, find an open emergency shelter or listen to local radio or TV for other disaster feeding sites. You can also check with local agencies for food assistance. If the president has declared your area as a disaster zone, you may be able to get D-SNAP—short-term financial assistance for food.
If you’re in your home, follow guidelines for food safety after a power outage or flood.
Following a Flood:
Throw out any food and drink that may have been exposed to flood water. This includes foods in containers that are not waterproof, like those with screw-caps and pull tops, home-canned foods and cardboard boxes of juice, milk, and baby formula.
Clean and sanitize any undamaged, commercially-packaged, all-metal food cans and pouches, like those used for juice or tuna. That means:
Washing cans and pouches with soap and water, and rinsing with safe drinking water if available
Sanitizing by boiling cans and pouches for two minutes or soaking them for 15 minutes in a mixture of one cup household bleach to 5 gallons of water
Air-drying cans and pouches for at least one hour before opening or storing
Using them as soon as possible
Wash, rinse, and sanitize pots and pans, dishes, and utensils either by boiling in water or soaking in a bleach/water solution.
Wash countertops and sanitize with a bleach/water solution that is allowed to air dry.
During and After Power Outages:
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. With doors closed, refrigerated foods will stay safe to eat for four hours. Frozen foods in a packed freezer will stay safe for 48 hours.
Try to buy dry or block ice to keep foods cold if the power will be out for days. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a full, 18-cubic-foot freezer cold for two days.
You can eat or refreeze food that has remained at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below or still has ice crystals.
Many foods will spoil in a refrigerator that’s been without power for four hours. These include most meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and deli items.
Follow these guidelines for refrigerated and frozen foods after a power outage.
Create Your Own Emergency Water Supply
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.
Wait to return to your property until local officials have declared that the area is safe.
Before you enter, check for safety hazards like loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage. Learn what else to check around your home and yard after a disaster.
Natural disasters can cause damage to records and heirloom treasures such as family papers, books, photographs, and other media. Find guidelines for saving family heirlooms and what to do with wet documents. Learn how to get replacement copies of your vital documents after a disaster.
Apply for Individual Assistance
There are several ways to see if you qualify for financial assistance after a disaster:
Find out if you qualify for disaster relief by using the address lookup on DisasterAssistance.gov.
You can access DisasterAssistance.gov through the FEMA Mobile App.
Complete this online questionnaire and disaster assistance application.
To get help in person, find a Disaster Recovery Center near you with the Disaster Recovery Center locator
Apply for a Disaster Recovery Loan
The Small Business Administration provides low-interest loans to help homeowners and small businesses recover from declared disasters. You can find out if you're eligible and apply online.
Tax Relief After a Disaster
Find out if you qualify for disaster relief on your federal taxes.
If you have a complaint about disaster relief assistance, contact the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General’s Office at 1-800-323-8603.
After major storms, rumors circulate and scammers may try to take advantage of you. Make sure you know what's real and what's fake. Check FEMA's Hurricane Florence rumor control information for trusted storm and recovery updates.
Many agencies across the federal government are providing tools and information for those in the path of Hurricane Florence. You can browse this list to help find programs or information that you might need.
- Call the Disaster Distress Helpline 24/7 for free counseling if you're emotionally distressed at 1-800-985-5990 (TTY 1-800-846-8517) or text "TalkWithUs" to 66746
- Report disaster fraud 1-866-720-5721 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Federal tax help is available for Florence survivors
- Food safety tips after a disaster
- Drone usage restrictions - keep your drones grounded so they don't interfere with responders
- Hurricane Florence forecasts and path maps from the National Hurricane Center
- Immigration enforcement suspended during Florence evacuations and sheltering
- Avoid scams and fraud after a weather disaster
- Donate wisely and avoid charity scams
- Hurricane data and coastal change hazards from the U.S. Geological Survey
- Hurricane Florence communications notices and status reports from the Federal Communications Commission
- Energy disruption maps from the U.S. Energy Information Administration
- USDA disaster assistance programs
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Last Updated: September 15, 2018