What You Need to Know to Recover from a Disaster

Following a major natural disaster, it is common to feel overwhelmed, isolated, and unsure of what to do next. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are many agencies, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations right here in Cass County who are ready to help you recover.

Each disaster will impact our community differently, the recovery resources available will be different following each disaster, so it’s best not to make assumptions about what assistance will or will not be available based on previous disasters.

If you have been impacted by a natural disaster, the Cass County Long Term Recovery Group can help you reach a new normal.

1) Stay Safe

Your safety needs to be your number one priority following a disaster. If you are injured, you won’t be able to help your family or those around you. Follow the instructions of first responders and emergency management officials and get to safety if the area you are has sustained damage.

If you need temporary shelter, listen to the local media. The news media will be providing information for disaster survivors.

2) Watch for Updates

In the days following the disaster, government agencies will conduct an assessment to determine the extent of the impact on the community and residents. If the disaster is severe, FEMA will make assistance available to individuals. Other organizations, such as the Red Cross, may make assistance available to disaster survivors, too.

While these organizations will do everything possible to get the word out about the assistance they’re providing to disaster survivors, you should proactively seek out information. Local news stations, government websites, and our Facebook page will provide information on assistance that’s available. Remember, it takes time for the government to conduct a damage assessment, so additional government assistance may become available weeks after the disaster has passed.

3) Collect Important Documents

Should you need to apply for disaster assistance from the government or a charitable organization, having some basic documents ready will smooth out the application process. It is recommended that you have the following documents readily available when you’re applying for disaster recovery assistance either in-person or online:

  • Vital Records – this includes identification such as a driver’s license or state ID card, Social Security card, citizenship papers, military ID, military discharge (DD Form 214)
  • Insurance Policies – this includes policies for homeowners, renters, flood, auto, life, health, disability, and long-term care policies. While you typically won’t need the policy papers, make sure you have your policy number and insurance company contact information for each coverage.
  • Medication List – if you are on prescription medications, ensure you have a list of prescriptions, the prescription numbers, and contact information for your pharmacy.

FEMA provides a comprehensive list of documents you will want to keep safe following a disaster. You can review that list on FEMA’s website by clicking here.

4) Apply for Assistance

If FEMA makes assistance available to individuals and families, they will set up a temporary Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). The DRC offers disaster survivors in-person resources in their community. The staff in a DRC consists of a team of experts from many agencies who work with individuals on their own recovery program. The State of Nebraska will have representatives who can answer questions about state and local programs. Voluntary organizations, such as the Red Cross, typically have representatives available at the DRC, too.

To search for open Disaster Recovery Centers in Cass County, visit fema.gov/DRC. Please keep in mind, it may take several days to a week for DRCs to be opened in the community. Listening to local news reports will be one of the best ways to find out if a DRC is being opened.