Log pile with pine trees in the background.

Post-disaster relief resources

In the wake of a natural disaster, online resources are available to help you seek federal assistance and answer your questions along the way.

Unfortunately, even those who have properly prepared for a natural disaster may find themselves in need of emergency assistance after the storm passes. While the amount and nature of any relief aid you receive depends on the scale of the disaster and your personal circumstances, there are online resources available to help guide you through the request process and answer any questions you have along the way.

Applying for emergency assistance

In the wake of a natural disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides emergency relief to qualifying individuals in the form of housing assistance, home repair, home replacement, permanent housing construction and other needs assistance. In addition to FEMA, there are many other organizations and programs that focus on providing relief to business owners, students, older adults, people with disabilities, low income households and more.

Learn which of these organizations may be able to help your recovery process by taking the Find Assistance questionnaire, and then apply for federal assistance using the Disaster Assistance Center. The information you’ll need to supply to complete the application includes:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your family’s household income at the time of the disaster
  • Contact information, both for the damaged dwelling and your current location
  • Information about your insurance coverage
  • Electronic funds transfer/direct deposit information, should you prefer any funds be transferred directly to your account

Following your application submission, FEMA will contact you with information about your assistance eligibility and, if applicable, to schedule an appointment for a home inspector visit. If you qualify for a grant, FEMA will provide you with a check by mail or a direct deposit into your account, as well as a letter describing how you are to use the money.

Note that you should also file a claim with your insurance company when you apply for FEMA assistance.

Post-disaster tax relief

Special tax law provisions may also be available to help you recover financially from a natural disaster, especially if the federal government has deemed your location to be a major disaster area. Depending on the situation, the IRS may grant affected individuals and businesses additional time to pay taxes and file returns. Talk to your tax professional about your situation, and review the IRS website for specific information about recent disasters and ways to prepare for future events.