Natural Disasters
Natural disasters can strike at any time, sometimes with little warning. The summer months are typically the most active, bringing wildfire season, the beginning of hurricane season in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and severe weather across many parts of the country. Whether wildfires in the western states, hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, tornadoes in the Midwest, or even earthquakes, most Americans are familiar with the damage a natural disaster can bring. There are steps you can take to be prepared. These include becoming familiar with hazards common in your area and how you can be ready for them, and making a family disaster kit containing items like food, fresh water, and medicines. To help with your planning, GovBenefits.gov is highlighting some of the benefit programs available to assist people impacted by a federally declared disaster.

For information on how you and your family can be better prepared for a natural disaster, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web site www.fema.gov. On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident.

  • Crisis Counseling

  • The Crisis Counseling program provides immediate crisis counseling services to victims of a major Federally declared disaster for the purpose of relieving mental health problems caused or aggravated by a major disaster or its aftermath. Assistance provided is short-term in nature and provided at no cost to the disaster victims. For more information visit www.govbenefits.gov/govbenefits/benefits/report.jhtml?bid=428

  • Disaster Housing Program

  • The Disaster Housing Program provides housing assistance in the form of a grant to individuals whose homes sustained damage as a result of a Presidentially declared disaster. To qualify for assistance, the damaged home must be your primary residence, and be located in the disaster-declared area. If insured, a claim should be filed. This program provides grants for lodging expense reimbursement, minimal home repairs, rental assistance and Mortgage and Rental Assistance. A determination of the types of housing assistance you are eligible to receive will be made if you apply. For more information visit www.govbenefits.gov/govbenefits/benefits/report.jhtml?bid=430

  • Disaster Legal Services

  • The Disaster Legal Services program provides legal assistance to individuals affected by a major federal disaster. For more information visit www.govbenefits.gov/govbenefits/benefits/report.jhtml?bid=431

  • Individual and Household Assistance

  • The Individual and Household Assistance program provides aid to individuals and households affected by a disaster to enable them to address necessary expenses and serious needs, which cannot be met through other forms of disaster assistance or insurance. For more information visit www.govbenefits.gov/govbenefits/benefits/report.jhtml?bid=816