Hurricane Harvey communications

Before-and-After Steps and Resources for Disasters

It’s crucial to understand the steps to take before and after a natural disaster strikes. As many of us personally are touched by such disasters – either directly or with family or friends– it’s important to be prepared.

Here are some steps to take both before and after a natural disaster strikes, as well as resources to rely on should a disaster occur.

Get prepared before disaster strikes

Military OneSource gives you guidance on what you need to know to prepare for any kind of emergency. Learn how to create a family emergency plan and disaster kit, sign up for installation emergency alerts and more. Also follow these other disaster preparation steps so a disaster does not overtake you and your family:

Start a conversation with your family. Planning ahead for disaster often starts with having a conversation with your family. Create a family emergency plan for your military family. Learn even more and find helpful checklists at https://www.ready.gov/.

Know how to evacuate when disaster strikes. Evacuations occur more frequently than most people realize. Know what protective measures to take before, during and after an evacuation. It is essential to have an emergency plan in place and your disaster kit — with several days' worth of supplies — ready in order to be prepared for an evacuation of any type.

Find out about your installation's emergency management plan. All military installations are required to create and maintain an emergency family assistance plan to help protect military families and other Department of Defense personnel. Your installation's emergency family assistance plan makes sure your environment is safe and mission-ready after a disaster so you can be ready. Here are more federal disaster preparedness resources to help you and your family get organized for an emergency.

What Comes After a Disaster

The Department of Defense and other federal officials offer the following advice for people during and after a disaster strikes:

Find a safe place to stay and check in with your command. After a disaster or emergency, your safety is what is most important. Check out Steps to Take After a Flood, Fire or Other Natural Disaster to find safe places to stay after such an event and self-account through your disaster and evacuation emergency contact.

Understand steps to take when returning home. USA.gov lets you know safe steps to take upon returning home from a disaster and has tools and resources on finding family after a disaster and replacing lost or destroyed vital documents.

Read safety tips, up-to-date info and rumor control, and more from FEMA. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also provides housing assistance if your home was damaged or destroyed and offers ways you can help victims of recent disasters. Call 800-462-9029 for assistance.

Apply for disaster assistance. The quickest way to apply for federal disaster assistance is online through DisasterAssistance.gov. If you don't have access to the Internet, you can apply by phone. Call 800-621-3362.

Reach out to your service relief organization. If you’re having financial problems, your service relief organization may be able to help. Army Emergency Relief, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and the Air Force Aid Society are here to help you weather financial emergencies. Depending on the circumstances, service relief organizations provide emergency financial help with interest-free loans, grants or a combination of loans and grants.

Recognize the signs of stress in children after a disaster. Even the most well-adjusted children may experience stress following a disaster or traumatic event. It's important to understand how to recognize and address signs of stress so you can help your children cope with their feelings.

Understand your protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The act provides financial and legal protection for active-duty service members, including National Guard and reserve members, and their families. In times of disaster it may be worth knowing your protections.

Weathering the storm

Remember, stress during times of disaster can be immense. During such times, it’s good to continue practicing the ways you help keep your family strong and resilient the way you do through long deployments and other demands of military life. Such practices can help pull you through times of crisis as well.

Disasters can be upsetting experiences for everyone involved. Reach out to Military OneSource online or by phone at 800-342-9647 if you are, or someone in your family is, facing disaster-related issues. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.