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Recovery in Oklahoma and Preparing for Other Disasters – Federal Resources Available to You

Posted: May 23, 2013

Last Monday's EF 5 tornado in Oklahoma is a powerful reminder that your world can be turned upside down in a minute. As part of a whole community response – businesses, neighborhoods, and trained volunteers – are coming together with government officials from all levels to help survivors get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

FEMA's Challenge: How to Deliver Assistance Faster

In its ongoing efforts to improve service to survivors and as part of the whole community team, one of the challenges the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has wrestled with is how to speed the delivery of disaster assistance to survivors in areas that have received a disaster declaration. FEMA is leveraging mobile technology to bring assistance directly to survivors, in addition to more traditional methods like disaster recovery centers. To date, three Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSATs) have been deployed to help federal, state, local, and tribal partners gather detailed information on the impacted areas of Oklahoma. These teams will address immediate and emerging needs of disaster survivors including: on-site registration; applicant status checks; on-the-spot needs assessments; and access to partners offering survivor services.

Those impacted in the declared counties are able to register for assistance via phone, web or mobile device:

  • Apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov
  • Apply via a smartphone at m.fema.gov
  • Apply by phone:
    • Call (800) 621-3362.
    • Call TTY (800) 462-7585 for people with speech or hearing disabilities

Your Challenge: Help Yourself, Help Others

With a major disaster response still ongoing, it is hard to wrap one's mind around disasters that have not yet occurred—but there is no shortage of reasons to prepare. May 26-June 1 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Hurricanes affect communities in coastal states all along the Eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico, and all across the United States. Flooding can be an issue for businesses and homeowners at any time of year. Only flood insurance covers flooding. The FloodSmart program was created to provide information on how to protect your facilities from floods, and additional coverage is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. Meanwhile, throughout the Southwest and Western states, fire season is already underway.

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. The good news is that, while life does not come with guarantees, you can significantly improve your odds by becoming familiar with the risks in your area and taking common sense steps. FEMA offers many free resources and tools through its website, some of which are listed below:

Before a disaster:

During a disaster and immediately after:

  • Keep the phone lines clear for emergency responders. Text, don't call, to check in on your employees and loved ones
  • Check on a neighbor

After a disaster: