Our hearts go out to the people in Oklahoma who are suffering such severe tornado damage. The people in these communities are no strangers to trouble – this tornado took a very similar path to May 3, 1999 tornado.
We’ve compiled some disaster response resources that may be helpful.
Let people know you are OK, search for loved ones: Safe & Well
How to help
- Red Cross – The organization says in the immediate aftermath, the best way to help is to donate at RedCross.org or donate $10 by texting REDCROSS to 90999
- Red Cross Blood
- Operation USA
- Salvation Army
Sadly, there is no shortage of fraudulent opportunists willing to take advantage of people’s generous nature. Be particularly careful of solicitations via phone, email, or social networking sites. The FTC Charity Checklist offers tips on how to avoid scams. You can also check out more a charity in advance through the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.
Shelters & Housing
The University of Oklahoma is opening up spaces in Housing for the displaced families! Call 405-325-2511
To search for open shelters: text SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA)
For example, if you lived in Washington, DC you would text: SHELTER 20472
Before you go to a shelter, always check with your local emergency management agency for availability & services. Also: Search for Red Cross Shelters
FEMA Housing Portal – help for individuals and families who have been displaced by a disaster to find a place to live. The portal consolidates rental resources identified and provided by federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Veterans Administration (VA), private organizations, and the public, to help individuals and families find available rental units in their area.
Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC)
Search by texting: To search for open Disaster Recovery Centers, text: DRC and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA). For example, if you lived in Washington, DC you would text: DRC 20472
DisasterAssistance.Gov – information on how you might be able to get help from the U.S. Government before, during and after a disaster. Learn what help you might be able to apply for from 17 government agencies in Spanish and English, apply for help from FEMA online, reduce the number of forms you have to fill out, shorten the time it takes to apply for aid, check the progress of your applications online and more. Fill out a questionnaire to learn which assistance programs you may be eligible for and apply for assistance.
If your employer has an EAP, that’s a good place to start. But if you or someone you know needs immediate help and you don’t have an EAP, here are some resources:
- SAMSHA’s Disaster Distress helpline – Call 1-800-985-5990 or Text TalkWithUs to 66746 and TTY for Deaf/Hearing Impaired: 1-800-846-8517
- Question about Government Services – Call 1-800-FED INFO (1-800-333-4636) if you have questions about government services, but don’t know what agency to contact.
- American Red Cross – Call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) for information on evacuation, shelter, and assistance.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-888-628-9454 for Spanish-speaking callers)
- Clean-up hazards & safety – call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636), TTY 1-888-232-6348, for information on preventing illness and injury. Available 24/7 in English and Spanish
- To report oil,chemical, or hazardous substance releases or spills, call the National Response Center 800-424-8802
- Food Safety – Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at: 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lost Bank Records, ATM Cards, Reach Your Bank and More Call 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342) TDD 1-800-925-4618
- National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline 866-720-5721 from the Department of Justice
- Small Business Administration Business Disaster Loans
Call 1-800-659-2955 TTY 1-800-877-8339 for business disaster loan program information.
Mental and Emotional Health
Coping with Disasters – 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. This FEMA resource offers information on understanding common human reactions to disaster events and recognizing signs of disaster related stress and strategies for easing stress. Also, information on helping lids cope with disaster and typical children’s reactions to disaster by age.
Common Reactions After Trauma – Most people have some kind of stress reaction after a trauma. Having such a reaction has nothing to do with personal weakness. Stress reactions may last for several days or even a few weeks. For most people, if symptoms occur, they will slowly decrease over time. All kinds of trauma survivors commonly experience stress reactions. This is true for veterans, children, and disaster rescue or relief workers. If you understand what is happening when you or someone you know reacts to a traumatic event, you may be less fearful and better able to handle things.
Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event – Managing Your Stress (PDF) – When you are exposed to traumatic events such as natural disaster, be aware of how these events can affect you personally. Most people show signs of stress after the event. These signs are normal. Over time, as your life gets back to normal, they should decrease. After a stressful event, monitor your own physical and mental health. Know the signs of stress in yourself and your loved ones. Know how to relieve stress. And know when to get help.
Self-Care After Disasters – Natural and technological disasters impact survivors, bereaved family members, witnesses to the event, and friends of those involved. Rescue workers, emergency medical and mental health care providers, and volunteers are also affected. Disasters can also impact members of the media, as well as citizens of the community, the country, and the world. Disasters can cause a number of different stress reactions in those affected. There are many steps you can take to manage stress after a disaster.
Coping with Traumatic Stress Reactions – When trauma survivors take direct action to cope with their stress reactions, they put themselves in a position of power. Active coping with the trauma makes you begin to feel less helpless.
Effects of Disasters: Risk and Resilience Factors – Learn about factors that make it more likely that someone will have more severe or longer- lasting stress reactions after disasters
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
An easy-to-read booklet on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that explains what it is, when it starts, how long it lasts, and how to get help.
Talking with kids about disasters
Dramatic images repeated on the news or talked about at school can be upsetting to adults, but even more so to kids who may not have the life experience to put things in perspective. This can lead to anxiety or fear about many of the things being discussed: natural disasters, disruption, loss, and death. We’ve put together a few resources for parents and teachers to help discuss these things with kids.
- Talking with kids about world natural disasters
- TV News and Accidents & Disasters – Talking with Kids about Tough Issues
- 8 Steps To Explain Disasters to Children
- Explaining death to children
- KidsHealth: Anxiety, fears, and phobias
Medical Device and Hurricane Emergencies – During natural disasters, medical devices may be exposed to fluctuating power, contaminants, or unusual levels of heat or humidity. These resources offer information about using medical devices during and following emergency situations due to hurricanes.
Replace your vital documents – links to information about replacing military service records, passports, birth, marriage & death certificates, and other important records. It includes links to information about restoring damaged documents and money.
IRS: Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief for Individuals and Businesses – Special tax law provisions may help taxpayers and businesses recover financially from the impact of a disaster, especially when the federal government declares their location to be a major disaster area. Depending on the circumstances, the IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes. Both individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area can get a faster refund by claiming losses related to the disaster on the tax return for the previous year, usually by filing an amended return.
Disaster Recovery Scams – The FTC talks about common disaster recovery scams.