Recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. Safety is a primary issue, as are mental and physical well-being. If assistance is available, knowing how to access it makes the process faster and less stressful. This section offers some general advice on steps to take after disaster strikes in order to begin getting your home, your community and your life back to normal.
After a local agency declares an emergency, there may be pathways for public agencies and individuals to receive assistance from the State of California and/or federal government, such as the California Office of Emergency Services, Small Business Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and/or US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. When individuals, households, or businesses are affected by an emergency or disaster, assistance may come in a variety of ways, including government and/or nonprofit, volunteer and faith-based organizations. Although disaster assistance programs are not designed to return you to pre-disaster condition, they may help you begin the Recovery Process.
The following resources may be available to our community for individual assistance related to disaster relief:
- Voluntary Agencies, such as the local American Red Cross or the Salvation Army, are often ready to step in and help take care of immediate needs. These organizations may be able to assist with sheltering or hotel vouchers, food, or clothing.
- Insurance is the first resource in recovering from a disaster. Contact your insurance agent or company representative to report your losses, review your coverage, and answer any questions. The California Department of Insurance provides assistance with insurance issues and can be reached by calling 1-800-927-HELP (4357) or by visiting the Department of Insurance website.
- Local Programs, services, or fee waivers may be available to assist with recovery efforts. Contact your local city or county for additional information.
- State and Federal Programs may be requested if the Governor determines that recovery appears to be beyond the combined resources of both the local and state government.
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest disaster loans to eligible homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and certain private nonprofit organizations in areas declared a disaster by SBA. SBA is most often the primary form of federal assistance that becomes available in California.
- Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) - Based on the magnitude and severity of the event, assistance may be requested from FEMA and may include the Individuals and Household Program (IHP) to assist with home repairs, temporary housing, and other needs. Depending on the disaster, recovery assistance may also include programs, such as Crisis Counseling, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, and Legal Services.
When IHP is implemented, the State Supplemental Grant Program is made available to assist with unmet needs. In the absence of federal assistance, residents affected by a disaster may need to rely on personal resources and assistance from local programs and/or voluntary organizations.
- California Department of Insurance
- Contractors State License Board Disaster Help Center
- Cal OES Recovery Division
- Public Assistance Information
- Disaster Recovery Assistance & Services Brochure
- FEMA Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide (PAPPG)
- FEMA Programs to Support Disaster Survivors
- FEMA Individual Assistance
- FEMA Public Assistance
- Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance YouTube Video
- Rebuilding After a Disaster (video)
- 10 Tips for Hiring a Contractor (PDF checklist, English and Spanish)