What to Do After a Natural Disaster

a city with a tower and a river

Storms, floods, earthquakes, and fires are all somewhat common in the United States. Millions of people have lived through a natural disaster, which can be extremely difficult. If you’ve been through a natural disaster recently, you might be wondering what to do. Here’s everything you need to know about the aftermath of a disaster.

Make sure everyone is safe

Obviously, you need to make sure you and your family members are safe after a natural disaster. Hopefully, you’ve also had time to grab any family pets before leaving your home, and your family’s lockbox of important documents like birth certificates and social security cards. Depending on the disaster, you may know of a local community safe area where you and your family can stay. If it’s a localized disaster, like a house fire, you may want to stay with a friend or get a hotel room. The most important thing is that you and your family members are safe and away from the damage.


Take photos (if you can) and contact your insurance company

You might want to get photos of the damage before you evacuate the area. This could be impossible in certain situations, so use your best judgment, but photos will help you with your insurance company. If you’re able to still live in your home and plan to start repairs right away, make sure you contact your insurance company first and save all your receipts. Similarly, if you’re forced to evacuate and live in a hotel, save your receipts as your insurance company might reimburse you for the expenses.


Register for disaster assistance

You might want to register for disaster assistance after experiencing a natural disaster. The assistance can help cover additional expenses or they can set you up with local resources. You can register for assistance online. It might be the help that makes a huge difference for you and your family, so don’t forget to do it. You never know what help you can get if you don’t ask.


Turn to prayer

For some people, going through a natural disaster makes them more religious. You might be feeling lost or confused after experiencing a disaster, so turning to religion can provide you with a grounding or sense of order. You might find yourself picking up NRSV Bibles for your family members and attending church more regularly than you used to. You might be praying for relief from the disaster or a return to some sort of normalcy. Turning to religion can help you feel less scared and more secure.


Rebuild (if you can)

You’ll need to start thinking about rebuilding after a disaster. If your home is not salvageable, you might be thinking of moving to a new area or even a new state. If your home is in disrepair but not ruin, you might be thinking of starting over. For many, there is no thought of moving away or leaving their homes. They would rather rebuild what they lost and regain a sense of power over the environment.

You can work with your insurance provider to see what they will cover in the rebuilding process. It might take months to rebuild your home, and even then it will never feel the same. As you go through this process, remind yourself of what you haven’t lost. You still have your life, as do your family members. View this as an opportunity to start fresh, rather than as a disaster that has struck you and left you with no choice. Make a few fun changes that you didn’t have the chance to do before, like extending your porch or installing energy-efficient windows. Now is your chance to start a new life, so rebuild your home and embrace the possibilities.


Experiencing a natural disaster can be horrifying. Do your best to handle the fallout and do what you can to reassure yourself and your family members that everything will be fine in the end.