12th Step – Coping with Disaster – After 48 hours

Disaster Assistance Available from FEMA:

Help After a Disaster Study Guide

Temporary Housing (a place to live for a limited period of time): Money is available to rent a different place to live, or a government provided housing unit when rental properties are not available. Search for information about housing rental resources.

Repair: Money is available to homeowners to repair damage from the disaster to their primary residence that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to make the damaged home safe, sanitary, and functional.

Replacement: Money is available to homeowners to replace their home destroyed in the disaster that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to help the homeowner with the cost of replacing their destroyed home.

Permanent Housing Construction: Direct assistance or money for the construction of a home. This type of help occurs only in insular areas or remote locations specified by FEMA, where no other type of housing assistance is possible.
What specific items are covered by “Housing Needs” assistance?
Do I qualify for “Housing Needs” Assistance?

Other than Housing Needs

Money is available for necessary expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster. This includes:

Disaster-related medical and dental costs.

Disaster-related funeral and burial cost.

Clothing; household items (room furnishings, appliances); tools (specialized or protective clothing and equipment) required for your job; necessary educational materials (computers, school books, supplies).

Fuels for primary heat source (heating oil, gas).

Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, dehumidifier).

Disaster damaged vehicle.

Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster (moving and storing property to avoid additional disaster damage while disaster-related repairs are being made to the home).

Other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA.

Other expenses that are authorized by law.

The emotional toll that disaster brings can sometimes be even more devastating than the financial strains of damage and loss of home, business, or personal property.

Understanding Disaster Events

Everyone who sees or experiences a disaster is affected by it in some way.

It is normal to feel anxious about your own safety and that of your family and close friends.

Profound sadness, grief, and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event.

Acknowledging your feelings helps you recover.

Focusing on your strengths and abilities helps you heal.

Accepting help from community programs and resources is healthy.

Everyone has different needs and different ways of coping.

It is common to want to strike back at people who have caused great pain.

Children and older adults are of special concern in the aftermath of disasters.

Even individuals who experience a disaster “second hand” through exposure to extensive media coverage can be affected.

Contact local faith-based organizations, voluntary agencies, or professional counselors for counseling. Additionally, FEMA and state and local governments of the affected area may provide crisis counseling assistance.

Recognize Signs of Disaster Related Stress

When adults have the following signs, they might need crisis counseling or stress management assistance:

Difficulty communicating thoughts.
Difficulty sleeping.
Difficulty maintaining balance in their lives.
Low threshold of frustration.
Increased use of drugs/alcohol.
Limited attention span.
Poor work performance.
Headaches/stomach problems.
Tunnel vision/muffled hearing.
Colds or flu-like symptoms.
Disorientation or confusion.
Difficulty concentrating.
Reluctance to leave home.
Depression, sadness.
Feelings of hopelessness.
Mood-swings and easy bouts of crying.
Overwhelming guilt and self-doubt.
Fear of crowds, strangers, or being alone.
Back To Top

Easing Disaster-Related Stress

The following are ways to ease disaster-related stress:

Talk with someone about your feelings – anger, sorrow, and other emotions – even though it may be difficult.

Seek help from professional counselors who deal with post-disaster stress.

Do not hold yourself responsible for the disastrous event or be frustrated because you feel you cannot help directly in the rescue work.

Take steps to promote your own physical and emotional healing by healthy eating, rest, exercise, relaxation, and meditation.

Maintain a normal family and daily routine, limiting demanding responsibilities on yourself and your family.

Spend time with family and friends.

Participate in memorials.

Use existing support groups of family, friends, and religious institutions.
Ensure you are ready for future events by restocking your disaster supplies kits and updating your family disaster plan. Doing these positive actions can be comforting.

Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) implements the Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) as a supplemental assistance program available to the United States and its Territories. Section 416 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 1974 authorizes FEMA to fund mental health assistance and training activities in Presidentially declared major disaster areas. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) – Emergency Mental Health and Traumatic Stress Services Branch (EMHTSSB) works with FEMA through an interagency agreement to provide technical assistance, consultation, and training for State and local mental health personnel, grant administration and program oversight.

Program Overview

The mission of the CCP is to assist individuals and communities in recovering from the effects of natural and human-caused disasters through the provision of community-based outreach and psycho-educational services. The CCP supports short-term interventions that involve the counseling goals of assisting disaster survivors in understanding their current situation and reactions, mitigating stress, assisting survivors in reviewing their disaster recovery options, promoting the use or development of coping strategies, providing emotional support, and encouraging linkages with other individuals and agencies who may help survivors in their recovery process (recover to their pre-disaster level of functioning).

Supplemental funding for crisis counseling is available to State Mental Health Authorities through two grant mechanisms: (1) the Immediate Services Program (ISP) which provides funds for up to 60 days of services immediately following a disaster declaration; and (2) the Regular Services Program (RSP) which provides funds for up to nine months following a disaster declaration. While SAMHSA provides technical assistance for an ISP, the monitoring responsibility remains with FEMA. FEMA has designated SAMHSA as the authority responsible for monitoring all RSP programs.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program provides unemployment benefits and re-employment services to individuals who have become unemployed because of major disasters. Benefits begin with the date the individual was unemployed due to the disaster incident and can extend up to 26 weeks after the Presidential declaration date. These benefits are made available to individuals not covered by other unemployment compensation programs, such as self-employed, farmers, migrant and seasonal workers, and those who have insufficient quarters to qualify for other unemployment compensation.

All unemployed individuals must register with the State’s employment services office before they can receive DUA benefits. However, although most States have a provision that an individual must be able and available to accept employment opportunities comparable to the employment the individual held before the disaster, not all States require an individual to search for work.

Legal Services

When the President declares a disaster, FEMA/EPR, through an agreement with the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, provides free legal assistance to disaster victims. Legal advice is limited to cases that will not produce a fee (i.e., these attorneys work without payment). Cases that may generate a fee are turned over to the local lawyer referral service.

The assistance that participating lawyers provide typically includes:

Assistance with insurance claims (life, medical, property, etc.)

Counseling on landlord/tenant problems

Assisting in consumer protection matters, remedies, and procedures

Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in a major disaster
Disaster legal services are provided to low-income individuals who, prior to or because of the disaster, are unable to secure legal services adequate to meet their needs as a consequence of a major disaster.

Special Tax Considerations

Taxpayers who have sustained a casualty loss from a declared disaster may deduct that loss on the federal income tax return for the year in which the casualty actually occurred, or elect to deduct the loss on the tax return for the preceding tax year. In order to deduct a casualty loss, the amount of the loss must exceed 10 percent of the adjusted gross income for the tax year by at least $100. If the loss was sustained from a federally declared disaster, the taxpayer may choose which of those two tax years provides the better tax advantage.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can expedite refunds due to taxpayers in a federally declared disaster area. An expedited refund can be a relatively quick source of cash, does not need to be repaid, and does not need an Individual Assistance declaration. It is available to any taxpayer in a federally declared disaster area.

Article written by