How to Support Your Community After a Disaster

Once an area has survived a disaster, there is a lot of work to be done, and often a lot of healing. In a military community where people forge quick friendships due to relatively short stays at each duty station, residents tend to reach out quickly to lend a hand. Your family can get involved in the recovery effort in your community. Here are some suggestions to rebuild and restore your community after a disaster.

Assess your own situation

Are you prepared to help others after experiencing a disaster? Recovering from a disaster can be both physically and mentally taxing. Be sure you are physically fit to pitch in, and mind the dangers that may exist after a disaster.

  • Tend to your family. Be sure your family is safe and your supplies will meet their needs.
  • Wear protective gear. Safety goggles, sturdy boots, leather gloves, and hard hats may keep you safe as you clean up debris from a storm.
  • Avoid downed power lines. Assume the line is live and call the power company to report the problem. Keep others away from the downed line.
  • Don't overdo. Take breaks and stay hydrated as you work.

Help your neighbors

The best place to start to mend a community after a disaster is with your own neighbors. Check to see how they fared and if they need any supplies that you might be able to share. Here are some ways your family can help your neighbors:

  • Knock on doors. Make sure your neighbors' basic needs of food, water, and health are being met.
  • Report emergency needs to the proper authority. Do not attempt to move seriously injured people.
  • Offer to watch children. This is helpful for adults that need to deal with disaster recovery needs.
  • Work with neighbors. Work together to remove unsafe limbs and restore access, so safety vehicles can regain access.
  • Offer transportation. If you have a truck or 4 X 4-vehicle, offer to transport neighbors who are nurses or support people if travel is difficult.

Contribute to your community

When disaster hits a community, there often is an outpouring of goodwill to aid the residents. Community needs are often publicized through the news or local aid organizations such as the Red Cross or The Salvation Army. Here are some ways you can contribute:

  • Donate money. Many charitable organizations ask the public for financial donations to support their recovery efforts. Check Charity Navigator, The National Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Report, GuideStar, or GiveWell to assess the performance of charities.
  • Donate supplies. Agencies stress that donations of goods should be limited to requested items since they do not have the time to sort through or distribute unsolicited items.
  • Donate your time. Work with an agency or a religious group to perform requested tasks. Be prepared to carry your own water and food.
  • Plan ahead for the next emergency. Community Citizen Response Teams (CERT) offer disaster preparedness and training in basic disaster response skills to enable CERT members to respond to neighborhood or workplace emergencies before the professional responders arrive.

Specific information for various kinds of disasters is available at FEMA's Recovering from Disaster site.


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