After A Disaster

This page will present some basic information on how to begin the disaster recovery process.

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 Recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. Safety is a primary issue, as are mental and physical well-being. If assistance is available, knowing how to access it makes the process faster and less stressful. This section offers some general advice on steps to take after disaster strikes in order to begin getting your home, your community, and your life back to normal.


Ensure your safety

Find out how to care for your safety after a disaster

Your first concern after a disaster is your family’s health and safety. You need to consider possible safety issues and monitor family health and well-being.

Aiding the Injured

Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury. If you must move an unconscious person, first stabilize the neck and back, then call for help immediately.

  • If the victim is not breathing, carefully position the victim for artificial respiration, clear the airway, and commence mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Maintain body temperature with blankets. Be sure the victim does not become overheated.
  • Never try to feed liquids to an unconscious person.


  • Be aware of exhaustion. Don’t try to do too much at once. Set priorities and pace yourself. Get enough rest.
  • Drink plenty of clean water.. Eat well.. Wear sturdy work boots and gloves.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water often when working in debris.

Safety Issues

  • Be aware of new safety issues created by the disaster. Watch for washed out roads, contaminated buildings, contaminated water, gas leaks, broken glass, damaged electrical wiring, and slippery floors.
  • Inform local authorities about health and safety issues, including chemical spills, downed power lines, washed out roads, smoldering insulation, and dead animals.


Rebuilding Resources

  • Repairing Your Flooded Home (Source: American Red Cross)
    FEMA and the American Red Cross prepared this booklet to provide step-by-step guidance to individuals repairing a flooded property.

  • Removing Mold from Your Home
    Steps you need to take to remove the mold and tips on how to keep mold out of your home in the future.

  • Information and Guidance on Building Safer
    Learn what low-cost measures you can take to reduce your risk from natural disasters. Find building and retrofitting tips and how to build a safe room.

  • Flood and National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Information
    Learn what to do before, during and after a flood. Get answers to your questions, learn the truth about flood insurance, and find tips on filing claims.

  • Rebuilding Smarter and Stronger
    Information and resources for making your property less susceptible to future losses.

  • Disaster Recovery and Building Reconstruction (Source: Department of Energy)
    Information and resources for state and local officials, builders, and consumers, on building technologies and designs that can make a long-term difference in areas vulnerable to natural disasters.

  • Disaster Maps Know your flood risks, find free mapping products, learn how to read an insurance map, and locate current disaster maps.

  • Finding a Contractor (Source: Better Business Bureau)
    Search online for contractors accredited by the Better Business Bureau to do repairs or home improvements in your area.

  • Safe Room Information and resources for a safe room that provides a high level of protection during high-wind events (e.g., tornadoes and hurricanes).



Returning Home


General Tips

Don't return to your flood-damaged home before the area is declared to be safe by local officials. Returning home can be both physically and mentally challenging. Above all, use caution.

Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury. If you must move an unconscious person, first stabilize the neck and back, then call for help immediately.

  • Keep a battery-powered radio with you so you can listen for emergency updates and news reports.

  • Use a battery-powered flash light to inspect a damaged home.
    Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering - the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.

  • Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.

  • Be wary of wildlife and other animals

  • Use the phone only to report life-threatening emergencies.

  • Stay off the streets. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
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