All emergencies and disasters are local in nature, but sometimes emergencies and disasters overwhelm state and local capacity to respond, and the federal government is called in to help. In those cases, the Federal Emergency Management Agency steps in to support people in need and first responders.
Navigating FEMA can be overwhelming and frustrating, and members may call on their union for help. Unions need to know how to work with FEMA and what resources it provides to those responding to and recovering from a disaster.
Below are links to useful resources that you can provide to your members in the event of an emergency or disaster declaration.
FEMA Fact Sheets
- Disaster Recovery Steps: Things to consider before entering your home after a disaster, especially around flooded conditions.
- Disaster Survivor’s Checklist: Reference guide on what to do after a FEMA-declared disaster.
- FEMA Questions and Answers: Common questions related to filing a claim with FEMA.
- Help after a Disaster: FEMA Individual Assistance Can Help You Recover: FEMA informational brochure (English and Spanish).
- What Happens at the Inspection: What to expect after filing a FEMA claim.
- Replacing Personal Documents: Assistance with replacing personal documents lost in a disaster (English and Spanish).
Additional FEMA Resources
Declaring an Emergency or Disaster: This fact sheet outlines the process by which an emergency or disaster is declared. Before FEMA resources can be allocated, the governor has to declare a state of emergency, which will activate the state’s Emergency Operations Plan. The state can then send a request for federal assistance to the president.
For more information, see FEMA’s Individual Disaster Assistance webpage.
National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System: FEMA’s NEFRLS program is activated following a presidentially declared disaster to reunite families that have become separated as a result of the disaster. When activated, individuals and families can register at FEMA.gov or 800-588-9822.
Small Business Administration: After you file a FEMA claim, you may be referred to the Small Business Administration for information about a low-interest loan. The SBA is the primary source of federal funds for long-term recovery assistance.
Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: You may be eligible for disaster relief food assistance.
Department of Justice: Members of the public can report disaster relief fraud, waste, abuse or mismanagement at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-720-5721. Individuals can also report criminal activity to the FBI at 800-CALL-FBI.
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster: This website provides information on the National VOAD’s member organizations, which share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle—preparation, response and recovery—to help disaster survivors and their communities. All organizations have service-oriented missions and include volunteer engagement as a key component of their operations.