Where to Get Information and Help – Before and After a Disaster

by Paul Konrardy

Government and State Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Natural Disasters and Severe Weather
Select the topic of your interest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a component of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS is the principal agency in the United States government for protecting the health and safety of all Americans and for providing essential human services.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Whole Community
This page describes the concept of whole community and is intended for individuals, families, communities, the private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, and state, local, tribal, territorial, insular area, and federal governments.

FEMA helps people before, during, and after disasters. Part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FEMA coordinated its activities with the newly formed Office of Homeland Security, and FEMA’s Office of National Preparedness was given responsibility for helping to ensure that the nation’s first responders were trained and equipped to deal with weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the Federal agency responsible for national policy and programs that address America’s housing needs, improve and develop the Nation’s communities and enforce fair housing laws.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
The Federal Housing Administration, generally known as “FHA,” provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States and its territories. FHA insures mortgages on single family and multifamily homes including manufactured homes and hospitals. It is the largest insurer of mortgages in the world, insuring over 47.5 million properties since its inception in 1934.

FHA mortgage insurance provides lenders with protection against losses as the result of homeowners defaulting on their mortgage loans. The lenders bear less risk because FHA will pay a claim to the lender in the event of a homeowner’s default. Loans must meet certain requirements established by FHA to qualify for insurance.

National Weather Service
Find the latest weather reports for your area, searching by “City, St” or ZIP code, or click here for dial-a-forecast. The page lists states by regions: Alaska Region, Central Region, Eastern Region, Southern Region, Western Region. The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas.

An informational website from the Department of Homeland Security, with lists for various emergency kits, tips on creating an evacuation plan and information on natural events. The Department of Homeland Security leverages resources within Federal, state, and local governments, coordinating the transition of multiple agencies and programs into a single, integrated agency focused on protecting the American people and their homeland.

The Children and Disasters section reflects resources available to support the integration and implementation of children’s disaster-related needs into preparedness, planning, response and recovery efforts initiated by state, local and tribal governments, as well as stakeholders responsible for the temporary care of children.

USDA – Disaster Assistance Programs
The Farm Service Agency provides assistance for natural disaster losses, resulting from drought, flood, fire, freeze, tornadoes, pest infestation, and other calamities.

Nonprofit and Community Organizations

American Red Cross
Click on ‘”Get Help” to learn about natural events. The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization led by volunteers, provides relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

Home Safety Council / Safe Kids Worldwide (HSC)
Safe Kids Worldwide is a nonprofit organization working to help families and communities keep kids safe from injuries. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 400 coalitions in the United States, and with partners in more than 30 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more.

National Safety Council
The National Safety Council eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

Salvation Army
Click on ‘Locations’ to find a Salvation Army chapter nearest you. Salvation Army social service programs meet the basic needs of daily life for those without the resources to do so themselves. Often, the programs provide food, shelter, clothing, financial assistance to pay utilities, and other necessities based on the need.

State-by-state Emergency and Health Department List
Click on your state for a link to your area’s environmental, health, public safety and emergency management departments. PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation’s 349 public television stations.

Flood Information

North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension Service: Flood Information
Information on flood prevention and management for home, family and individuals. The role of the NDSU Extension Service is to meet the needs of the people as they adapt to this changing environment and bring research data to people with individual issues and needs.

FloodSmart – the official page of the National Flood Insurance Program – provides information about flood insurance, floodplain management, and flood hazard mapping. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA prepares the nation for hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident.

Insurance Information

Consumer Action Handbook
The Consumer Action Handbook is a free resource guide that provides general information on shopping for goods and services and tips about your consumer rights.

Docu-Damage is an informational resource for those who have sustained damage from fires, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters and are now negotiating their way through the insurance claims process. The tips and information come from professionals in many industries including Insurance Adjusters, Public Insurance Adjusters, Contractors, Attorneys, Building Material Suppliers, etc.

Insurance Consumer Advocate Network
The Insurance Consumer Advocate Network (I-CAN) is a National Support Network of Respect for the insurance consumer.

Insurance Information Institute
Here you can find answers on homeowner’s insurance, filing a claim and general home security concerns. The mission of the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) is to improve public understanding of insurance — what it does and how it works. The Insurance Information Institute is a nonprofit communications organization supported by the insurance industry.

National Association of Insurance Commissioners
Click here for consumer publications, alerts, company and general insurance information. Click here for a link to insurance departments by state. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is the organization of insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the four U.S. territories.

National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters
NAPIA is the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. Public Adjusters are experts on property loss adjustment who are retained by policyholders to assist in preparing, filing and adjusting insurance claims. NAPIA members across the United States have joined together for the purpose of professional education, certification, and promotion of a code of professional conduct.

Legal Organizations

LawHelp helps low and moderate income people find free legal aid programs in their communities, and answers to questions about their legal rights in areas related to housing, work, family, bankruptcy, disability, immigration and other topics. This site has been built by Pro Bono Net, a nonprofit organization headquartered in New York, and by partnering legal aid organizations.

Link to legal matters on property and money, rights and disputes, family law and more. Nolo.com is a legal guide, which provides do-it-yourself legal solutions for consumers and small businesses.

Home Preparation

Prepare and protect your home with tips from Home-Smart.org. Click on the monthly checklist to find out what preparations to take each month. The Minnesota Building Industry Foundation created Home- Smart.org to help resolve and answer consumer questions on a variety of topics ranging from choosing a homebuilder to maintenance questions.

Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)
The FORTIFIED Home™ (a program of IBHS) is a set of engineering and building standards designed to help strengthen new and existing homes through system-specific building upgrades to minimum building code requirements that will reduce damage from specific natural hazards. The FORTIFIED Home program has three levels of designation—Bronze, Silver and Gold—that build upon each other, allowing you to choose the desired level of protection that best suits your budgets and resilience goals.

Property Restoration

Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification 
Click on “Locate a Certified Pro” in the navigation menu to locate an IICRC Certified Professional near you and Disaster Resources for helpful articles. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is a nonprofit certifying body for the flooring inspection, floor covering and specialized fabric cleaning, and disaster restoration industry.

WHN – Home Inventory

Sample Home Inventory Lists
Print out and fill in these WHN forms for each room in your home. A detailed list of your possessions and their locations, estimated value and price, can make it easier when filing a claim after a loss or disaster.

4 Things to Know About Creating a Home Inventory List
A home inventory is a well-documented list and videos/photos of the belongings in your home. Click on the link above to learn more about making your own home inventory lists.

Photo Credit: American Red Cross

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