After a disaster call 2-1-1 for information on shelter locations, how to report damage, and assistance with unmet needs such as food or debris cleanup.
In the face of devastating and life-altering damage, it is not uncommon for families to feel frustrated and concerned. The road to recovery takes time. Everyone has an important role to play in repairing and rebuilding our communities, and there are steps you can take to ensure the safety of you and your family as you move forward through this transition. It’s also important to know you are not alone. Your community, local and state governments, and the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) are here to support you and provide information, resources, and needed assistance.
Helping Your Community: Get Involved
To make the most of your efforts and better assist impacted communities, consider these tips for donating and volunteering responsibly:
Donate cash through a trusted organization. Financial donations are the fastest and most effective way to assist disaster survivors. There are many voluntary organizations that need your support in order to provide relief to disaster survivors.
For a list of trusted national organizations, visit the VOAD website.
For a list of trusted Virginia organizations, visit the Virginia VOAD website here.
Donate to the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund. This program provides a way for individuals or groups to make monetary donations to help those affected by disasters in Virginia.
If you want to help, you can donate via our website here or send checks made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia with “Virginia Disaster Relief Fund” noted in the memo line to the following address:
P.O. Box 1971
Richmond, VA 23218-1971
Affiliate with existing non-profit organizations before coming to the disaster area. Immediately following a disaster, a community can become easily overwhelmed by the amount of generous people who want to help. Contacting and affiliating with an established organization will help to ensure that you are appropriately trained and supported to respond in the most effective way. To volunteer in impacted areas, please contact the Virginia VOAD:
For additional resources and information on how to get involved, check out: http://www.vaemergency.gov/get-involved/.
Always report your damage to your local government
- Whether you have insurance or not, reporting your damage as soon as possible allows your local government to include your losses in its damage assessments. The greater the financial loss/damages, the more likely your locality is to qualify for federal assistance, which benefits those impacted.
- Document all storm damage sustained to your home and belongings. Take photos before and after cleanup and after repairs are completed.
If you have insurance, it’s important to file your claims as soon as possible
- Record all damage sustained and create lists of damaged items including model numbers, estimated value, and photos, if possible.
- Do not begin repairs prior to filing your insurance claims.
- Keep your receipts for any disaster-related expenses you have made, such as lodging, medical, repair and cleaning supplies, etc.
- Since flood damage is not always covered by homeowners insurance, flood insurance is important for people living in high-risk flood zones.
- If you are a renter, also contact your landlord to report flooding or structural damage. Landlords are typically only responsible for your building, not your personal belongings.
- If possible, take steps to avoid additional property damage. Insurance companies usually require policyholders to take reasonable steps to prevent the original damage from getting worse.
Tips For Returning Home After A Disaster
Beware of potential structural damage and debris before re-entering your home. And stay away from all downed power lines–for safety purposes, always assume that a fallen power line is live and dangerous.
Cleaning and disinfecting your household after an emergency is important to help prevent the spread of illness and disease. Ensure you take proper steps to clean up any flood damage and debris:
- Make sure you remove any wet items from your home and clean all affected surfaces with detergent and water to prevent hazardous mold. Controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing the growth of mold, especially within the first 24-48 hours after flooding.
- Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for additional tips on how to clean and sanitize with bleach after an emergency , as well as tips on how to prevent mold .
- When in doubt, throw it out! Remove all items that have been wet for more than 48 hours and that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried, such as carpeting, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation material, etc. These items can remain a source of mold growth and should be removed from the home. Additionally, throw away any food that has come in contact with floodwaters or food that has spoiled due to power loss.
- Check for signs of water damage or mold growth, which can be indicated by discoloration in walls and ceilings or a bad odor. If you have damage to report or require additional assistance, call 2-1-1 for information and resources. It’s important to know that flood insurance and FEMA assistance do NOT cover mold remediation.
- If you are provided with a clean-up kit and are unable to use it due to a disability or medical issue, contact your local government or call 2-1-1 for assistance.
Tips for Preventing Future Damage
You can prevent future damage to your home and property while making repairs. If your house was flooded, consider the following options to avoid loss in the future:
- Elevate your water heater off the floor.
- Move your main electrical panel to a better location.
- Elevate your home above flood level.
- Build floodwalls or berms to protect your home against floodwaters.
- Seal the building to keep floodwaters out.
- Local building codes usually require a building permit before you start to repair or alter your home. And residents may want to put their belongings into storage or keep them outside until repairs can be completed.
- Tarps can be used to prevent additional rainwater from entering and damaging the home.