It’s happened- and it’s a disaster. Your home may have been severely damaged or destroyed. Perhaps you owned a business, and it’s gone too. Perhaps you raised cattle, and now they’re all scattered, lost, or dead. What do you do now? A disaster can traumatize, a disaster can demolish, and a disaster will be a milestone in your life. What can you do? There is only one step to take after a disaster-recover. The recovery process takes place after the disaster has struck. This is the point beyond planning or preparing. Whatever response that was conducted during the disaster is over. The flood waters have subsided, fires have gone out, and everything has settled.
The first thing that anyone should know about recovery is that it is a process. This means that it takes time. It will take time to recover financially, socially, physically, and emotionally. Be prepared for the recovery process to be just that- a process. Many people are lost and confused this is normal. Also, what is normal is that people take an unnecessarily long time to recover; this is because they do not have a plan to recover. Here are a few considerations that should be made when thinking about recovering from a disaster.
Where are you (or you and your family) going to reside? You can’t simply sleep on rubble and ruin. You will need temporary shelter. This could be a friend or family member’s home, hotel, or temporary housing. Shelter during the recovery process goes through cycles. The goal of a successful recovery is to recreate your long-term housing condition. This means that, until such a time that you have your permanent residence, you may have to stay at a temporary shelter, then a hotel, then a friend’s house, then perhaps an apartment for a year. Do not expect to stay at your parent’s house for a week then be ready to move back in. This might indeed be the case, but that will be dependent on the scope of the disaster.
- Food and Water
What will you eat and drink? You may not have anything left- and your neighbors might not either. Will there even be anything in the stores? These all depend on the scope of the incident. Again, you may have to accept supplies from disaster relief organizations that are in the area. Such organizations like the Red Cross provide food, clothes, medical assistance, and counseling to anyone in the area. Unless or until there are stores that are providing resources in the immediate area, you may have to leave. Not only to seek temporary shelter, but food and water as well.
How will you communicate with anyone? If the situation is not too severe that may not be a problem; but what if there are no phones, computers, or radios? There are communication centers available that are set up by relief organizations. REACH International is another example of a group that may be on site who provides this service. Most organizations that will be available will set up community centers where they center their supplies and services, including communication.
- How to Receive Help?
Help will be there. The larger the disaster, the more help will arrive. However, you should not rely on outside assistance during the event, or even during the hours or days that may follow. Though many organizations will gladly help with all of your needs, they will take time to mobilize, travel, arrive, and set up their bases of operation. You can first and foremost receive help by preparing beforehand so that you have the means to sustain yourselves during this traumatic time. Not only will you not have the need of desperation to fight over supplies, or wait for help, but you will be able to increase your chances of survival, and speed up your recovery process. What do you need to do to plan beforehand? You need to be informed about disaster scenarios, about survival methods, about what materials you need, and about what to expect for the future. Note, no amount of preparation can fully prepare you for what may come, and nothing can guarantee success. However, planning and preparing for your future will guarantee a greater chance of survival.
Below are some links that show how to apply for aid, and what kinds of aid may be available to you after a disaster.
Disaster Assistance: A Guide to Recovery Programs
Here describes the types of assistance available to individuals and small businesses
A Citizen’s Guide to Disaster Assistance
Section 3-14 should help specifically with individual and small business assistance
Enter your full address to see if your area has been declared for Individual Assistance
Disaster Survivor Application Checklist