California wildfires have been in the news lately. It’s still hurricane season. It seems there’s always some kind of disaster in the news. Some people are better prepared for a disaster than others, but when something happens, victims need more information than anyone can remember. Government websites have the best information.
If you’re looking for any kind of government information, begin with USA.gov. It collects and organizes government information from federal, state, and local government agencies. Its home page provides links about various broad categories. We’ll begin this post with its Disasters and Emergencies page.
This page links to four major topics:
- After a disaster
- Emergency and disaster preparedness
- Financial assistance after a disaster
- Help survivors of a disaster
When you go to any one of them, you’ll see all four in the left-hand margin. It makes navigating easy.
Emergency and disaster preparedness
Most of the links in this section go to Ready.gov, an official site of the Department of Homeland Security. USA.gov links to six specific pages there about developing an emergency plan.
It also links to a National Weather Service page where you can sign up to receive text and email alerts, and another to sign up for the Wireless Emergency Alert system.
You can also follow a link to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get their app. If you’re out of the country and run into a disaster or crisis, there is a link to the appropriate page on DisasterAssistance.gov. It also has help for people concerned about families abroad.
These three agency websites provide abundant information about every aspect of disasters.
After a disaster
This page has a menu at the top that will take you to six specific headings. In all, it has additional links to FEMA and DisasterAssistance.gov, as well as links to other USA.gov pages. It will also direct you to agencies you might not think of in relation to disasters. The section on replacing lost or destroyed vital records, for example, links to several of them:
- A tool to locate your post office to arrange for alternative mail delivery
- A Centers for Disease Control page for state vital records offices to replace documents related to birth, death, marriage, and divorce
- A tool to locate your state’s motor vehicle office
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services pages for replacing a green card, naturalization papers, and similar documents
- A Social Security Administration page to replace a social security card
- A State Department page for lost or destroyed passports
Who would have thought the CDC would be the best place to find where to ask for a replacement birth certificate?
Financial assistance, helping
Financial assistance after a disaster requires so much guidance that it has its own separate section. FEMA pays for much but not all disaster-related help.
A disaster-stricken area relies on people from outside coming in to help. Several well-known non-governmental organizations will send crews as quickly as possible. The page on helping survivors links tips on volunteering and donating money or blood. It also links to advice on how to avoid scams and what to do if you encounter fraud.
In all, this page offers well-organized and easy to navigate links to all kinds of help in disasters and emergencies. But it only helps people who know it exists. Make a mental note of it so you’ll remember it if you need it, or if you need to tell someone else about it.