After the immediate danger of a catastrophe has passed, individuals should continue to exercise caution in their homes and communities to stay safe during the clean-up and recovery process.
After a flood
By specific disaster:
- Additional Information:
After a Thunderstorm or Tornado
- Assess your immediate environment.
- Report fallen trees, flooded streets, or damaged public utilities to the proper department.
- Continue listening to local radio or television stations and your NOAA Weather Radio for updated information.
- Review your Family Emergency Plan and follow through with your Communications Plan. If all of your family members are not present, report to your family's pre-designated meeting point, unless emergency officials direct otherwise.
- Assess any damage to your home or immediate surroundings. Be aware of any potential hazards such as ruptured gas lines, structural damage to your home, downed electrical lines, and localized flooding. Immediately report any injuries or hazards via 9-1-1. Advise your family and neighbors as well.
- Call 9-1-1 to report injured or trapped persons. Give first aid where appropriate, but do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger. Never enter any building that appears to have suffered structural damage or that poses any other hazards.
- Do not enter any disaster area. Your presence there will simply add to the confusion and may hamper emergency response efforts. A public message will be broadcast in the event that volunteers are needed.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls. Once you have notified your pre-identified emergency contact person that you are okay, let him or her notify other family or loved ones. Telephones are frequently overwhelmed in a disaster situation and need to be clear for emergency calls to get through.
After an Earthquake
- Check for injuries. Render first aid. Do not move seriously injured victims unless they are in immediate danger. Do not use the telephone immediately unless there is a serious injury, fire or other emergency. Hunt for hazards.
- Check for other hazards and control them (fire, chemical spills, toxic fumes and possible collapse).
- Check utilities (water, gas, electric). If there is damage, turn the utility off at the source.
- Check for other hazards and control them (fire, chemical spills, toxic fumes and possible collapse).
- Check building for cracks and damage, including roof, chimneys, and foundation.
- Check food and water supplies.
- Emergency water can be obtained from water heaters, melted ice cubes, canned vegetables, and toilet tanks.
- Never use matches, lighters or candles inside.
- Turn on the radio and listen for emergency broadcasts/announcements, news reports, and instructions. Cooperate with public safety officials.
- Do not use your vehicle unless there is an emergency. Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles.
- If buildings are suspect, set up your shelter area away from damage.
- Work with your neighbors for a quicker recovery. Stay calm and lend a hand to others.
- Be prepared for aftershocks.
- Plan for evacuation in case events make this necessary. Leave written messages for other family members or searchers.
- Use gloves, wear heavy shoes, and have
adequate and appropriate clothing available.
For More Information on Recovering from Disasters:
In addition to the self-help efforts of individuals and families and the efforts of local government, voluntary agencies are a key part of the effective response to and recovery from a disaster.
Voluntary agencies such as the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and other Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) are an essential part of any disaster relief effort, providing critical assistance with food, shelter, clothing, household items, medical expenses, clean-up, repairs, and rebuilding.
Some voluntary agencies are available to assist in emergencies in all communities; others may only be able to assist in disasters that affect specific regional areas. Voluntary agencies assist whether or not there has been a presidential disaster declaration, coordinating with each other and with government officials to meet a community’s disaster needs. If you have had a disaster, contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross or other social service agencies. You can obtain the numbers of these agencies by looking in your local phone book.
Some public assistance recipients may be eligible for assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services. If you are a public assistance recipient who has been through a disaster, contact your case worker for additional information.
If a disaster is of sufficient magnitude to warrant a presidential disaster or emergency declaration, federal disaster assistance programs may be made available to help individuals, families, homeowners, renters, businesses, and units of government recover from the disaster. The programs that may be available are Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, and Hazard Mitigation.
Individual Assistance Programs
Individual Assistance Programs include grant programs administered by the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and a loan program administered by the Small Business Administration. These programs provide assistance to individuals, families, homeowners, renters, and businesses. If these programs are included in a presidential declaration, the public will be notified of the declaration through the local media. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) - Apply for Assistance web page provides detailed information on the Individual Assistance Programs.
Public Assistance Program
The Public Assistance Program makes grants available to state agencies, local government organizations, and certain private non-profit organizations that incurred costs or damage as a result of the disaster. Units of government and eligible private non-profit organizations within the area declared a disaster will be contacted by state and local officials so that they may apply for grants. Detailed information on the Public Assistance Program may be found on the web at Illinois Emergency Management Agency - Eligibility Information.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program provides grants to state and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration. The purpose of the grants is to implement measures to reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future disaster damages. Find detailed information on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) - Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
For Additional Information
- Public Assistance Progam - Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Prepare Financially - American Red Cross
- Disaster Recovery, A Guide to Financial Issues - American Red Cross
- Apply For Assistance - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Remember your personal safety - think before you act
- Keep calm and reassure others
- Turn off gas bottles, electricity & water
- Check on your family
- Listen to your radio for information and instructions
- Wear sensible clothing for the conditions (especially footwear) if going out
- Check on your neighbors
- Check and secure pets
- Avoid using the telephone except where life is at risk
- Don’t go sightseeing — STAY HOME or close by
Insurance requirements after a disaster
Protect yourself and others:
- Wait for an all-clear announcement before leaving your home or shelter.
- Check people around you for injuries. Begin first-aid and seek help if necessary.
- Watch out for downed utility lines.
- Restrict telephone use to emergency calls.
- Avoid collapsed or deteriorated bridges.
- Check your water heater and appliances for damage. Do your checking with a flashlight, not matches or candles. If you smell gas, open windows and turn off the main valve. Don't turn on lights and appliances until the gas has dissipated and the system has been checked. If electric wires are shorting out, turn off the power.
- Use your emergency water or boil tap water before drinking until you are told the water supply is safe.
- Food that came in contact with flood waters may be contaminated and should be discarded.
- Check refrigerated food for spoilage. Make a list of spoiled or contaminated food and save the list for your claim representative. Damaged food may be covered by your insurance policy.
- Debris in the streets, downed power lines and flooding may make driving hazardous. If flooding is a potential hazard, stay away from rivers and streams.
Protect your home and personal property:
- Look for damage, including roof damage, that could allow rain into the house. (Don't climb onto the roof.)
- If your power is out, unplug all small and sensitive items to prevent electrical spike damage. (This includes TV, VCR, computers, etc.)
- Take reasonable steps to prevent further damage. This may include temporary roof repair, window glass replacement, boarding up holes with plywood and covering leaks with plastic sheeting.
- Remove water from saturated floors and carpet.
- Separate items that may be cleaned and/or repaired.
- Dry and clean wet furniture and clothing as soon as possible. Save your receipts; the costs for these emergency steps are possibly covered under your insurance policy.
- Check with your claim representative before you dispose of any items you plan to claim as damaged.
- Document the time you spent cleaning up, what you did and the number of hours.
- Make a list of all damaged items, include quantity, description and age.
Protect your car from further damage:
- If your car was under water, do not try to start it. Take extra steps to remove the water and speed up the drying process.
- Cover windows, holes, etc. to prevent more water from coming in.
- Find your vehicle and registration, you'll need it to file your insurance claim.
- If you need to have your vehicle towed, or get temporary repairs, save all receipts.
If your home is damaged so severely you can't live in it:
- Payment for expenses that are beyond your normal living expenses may be available.
- Find temporary housing for your family. (There is no coverage under most flood policies for this expense).
- We suggest that you not enter into any long-term leases until you talk to your insurance company claim representative.
- Keep all receipts associated with the temporary housing, meals and other miscellaneous expenses.
What is a disaster?
The United Nations defines a disaster as: "A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources." (from the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction)
A disaster is defined and 'declared' when local resources are overwhelmed; when more resources are required than those immediately available. A disaster simply defines the point of escalation where outside help is required: 9/11 was a disaster for the city of New York within minutes of occurrence. As moving resources to overwhelmed areas is a management problem, the term disaster management has come into use to describe larger scale processes of disaster relief and disaster recovery as opposed to emergency management of the more routine sort. Some disasters, such as a pandemic, may preclude any help arriving "from outside", as there may "be no outside" since many areas are affected at once. For this and other reasons, resilience rather than after-the-fact relief has become the primary goal of many agencies.