Imagine watching the destructive forces of a hurricane or earthquake from thousands of miles away, knowing that your loved ones are losing everything.
That was the reality for millions of families last year, as catastrophes pummeled various parts of the United States. From wildfires in California to hurricanes in Puerto Rico, there was barely a state left untouched by disaster.
In 2017, natural disasters displaced more than 1.6 million people in the United States. Not only was 2017 the costliest year on record, but thousands of lives were lost and many areas across the U.S. are still in the process of rebuilding.
This year doesn’t look like it will fare much better, with an earthquake and volcanic eruption hitting Hawaii already this year, and hurricanes predicted for much of the southeast.
We can’t prevent these events. Rarely can we predict much more than the likelihood that they will occur. What we can do for our families is to be as prepared as possible. Part of preparation is to be ready for even the worst-case scenario: your loved ones may lose it all.
Don’t become a statistic. Keep reading to learn where you can get help when you need it the most.
Disaster Relief Resources
Natural disasters are life-altering. In an instant, they can take away everything we have and leave us with nothing. At a time like that, who could think about rebuilding their life when they must wonder where their next hot meal will come from?
Our goal at The Earthquake Bag is to help everyone be more prepared in the most painless and effective way possible. Everything we do is designed with this goal in mind, including this list of resources. By providing you with what you need, before you ever need it, we can all have peace of mind.
Digital Government Resources
The United States Disaster Assistance website is the best place to start. Use this link to determine whether your area has been declared for individual assistance, apply online for assistance, and find local resources to help you in the meantime.
If you need housing...
If your area has not been declared for individual assistance, you can still navigate the website to find other means of immediate assistance.
This link provides a massive list of all forms of federal disaster relief assistance, which can be sorted by category or Federal Agency
Types of resources include:
- Food and housing
- Free legal services
- Small business relief
- Unemployment assistance
- Mortgage and loan assistance
If you need food or water…
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the organization in charge of providing assistance following a natural disaster
- USDA FNS Food Assistance for Disaster Relief provides food and shelters for those in immediate, critical need. They also run the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) program
If you need financial assistance…
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is another available resource. The HUD works with FEMA, USDA, and the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) to offer recovery assistance.
- mortgage assistance
- housing counseling
- legal resources
If you need local resources…
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Disaster Resource Center is a good place to start to learn more about the services you can receive based on the type of disaster you have experienced
- Visit the USDA Service Center Locator map available here. This is a quick way to access contact information for your local USDA service centers
- Another option is to contact your state’s emergency management agency. You can find a list of those agencies and their contact information here
To learn more about disasters and emergencies visit the USA.gov website.
Other Ways to Get Assistance
You may not have access to a computer following a natural disaster, so we compiled a list of useful numbers to connect with disaster relief agencies.
- The FEMA Helpline is 800-621-3362 If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and use 711 or VRS, call 800-621-3362. TTY: call 800-462-7585
- You can visit a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center after a disaster to learn more about assistance. To locate a FEMA DRC near you, text DRC and a Zip Code to 4FEMA (43362).
This map shows the Food and Nutrition Service offices for each region of the United States. The numbers for each regional office are as follows:
- Mid-Atlantic: 609-259-5025
- Midwest: 312-353-6664
- Mountain Plains: 303-844-0300
- Northeast: 617-565-6370
- Southeast: 404-562-1801
- Southwest: 214-290-9800
- Western: 415-705-1310
Don’t forget: In addition to this list, you’ll should also include contact information for your insurance agency, mortgage lenders, and any other financially-relevant organizations.
There are many charitable organizations that help the victims of natural disasters. The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation put together a list of nonprofit disaster relief organizations that you can access via this link.
Here at The Earthquake Bag, we have also committed to helping those most in need.
Through our Disaster Relief Program we have donated to organizations like:
- All Hands and Hearts
- The Red Cross
- Houston Food Bank
- Global Giving
In addition to our donations and volunteer trips, $5 from each purchase goes towards our Disaster Relief Program.
“Chance favors the prepared mind.”
Preparation is not a passive activity. To be truly prepared means to constantly assessing your risks and taking steps to mitigate them.
Get a bag, make a plan, and keep this list somewhere handy.
We hope you’ll never need these items...
But if you do, you’ll be prepared.