Facing and enduring a natural disaster such as a hurricane, flood, or tornado can be a frightening and challenging experience. It’s also a fact of life for most people who live in the Southeast United States.
During times of disaster, it’s important to know where to go for accurate, up-to-date, and helpful information. The following guide is designed to help you navigate a natural disaster safely and knowledgeably by providing a preliminary list of reputable and reliable resources from government agencies and other organizations well-versed in disaster management. It focuses on three common types of natural disasters that occur in the Southeast: hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes.
General Emergency & Disaster Preparedness Resources
- Ready.gov/Today: Determine your area’s risk level for natural disasters. This Department of Homeland Security website demonstrates the importance of emergency preparedness by highlighting the difference a day can make between normal life and the onset of a natural disaster. Broken down by state, it outlines the main disaster risks for each region and includes links to local resources.
- Ready.gov/Kids: This site helps families teach their children the importance of emergency and disaster preparedness.
- FEMA Emergency Management Directory: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides contact information for the nearest emergency management agencies and directories, sorted alphabetically by state.
- Build an Emergency Kit: This Department of Homeland Security web page outlines the basic items every family should have in their disaster supply kit, and includes information about how to stock, store, and maintain the kit.
- Build an Emergency Plan: Useful for any disaster, a family emergency plan is a valuable tool to have ready before you truly need it.
- NWS StormReady® Program: This program from the National Weather Service (NWS) aims to help communities ensure they’re ready to safely handle a natural disaster, should one occur in their area.
- Basic Emergency Planning: Through this video course, students and individuals will learn how to effectively prepare for emergencies and develop quality plans for future emergencies.
- Financial Assistance After a Disaster: Learn whether you qualify for federal financial assistance.
- Disaster Distress Helpline: Managed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, this 24⁄7 year-round hotline (1-800-985-5990) is a resource for people struggling with the emotional aftermath of surviving a natural disaster.
Hurricane Safety and Preparedness
- National Hurricane Center: The NHC issues hurricane and tropical storm watches, warnings, and advisories on a consistent basis.
- What to Do Before the Tropical Storm or Hurricane: The National Weather Service outlines the key steps to take in preparing for a hurricane.
- Ready.gov/Hurricanes: Learn how to prepare for a hurricane in the days and hours leading up to its arrival, as well as how to stay safe when it hits.
- How to Prepare for a Hurricane: This downloadable guide from FEMA outlines what to do to stay safe before, during, and after a hurricane.
- Actions to Take When a Hurricane or Tropical Storm Threatens: The National Weather Service provides six key steps to take to ensure survival during a hurricane, whether you are ordered to evacuate or remain in place.
- NWS: After a Hurricane: Just because the rain and wind have subsided doesn’t mean everything is necessarily safe. Read these suggestions from the NWS to ensure you stay protected.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): After a Hurricane: Find out how to avoid the potential health risks that may arise in the aftermath of a hurricane.
Flood Safety and Preparedness
- NWS: Flood Safety Tips and Resources: The NWS outlines the difference between flood warnings and watches, and offers helpful resources on how to stay safe when the waters rise.
- Ready.gov/Floods: Learn what to do in the event of a flood warning in your area, and find out how to stay safe.
- FloodSmart: The National Flood Insurance Program website helps you determine if and why you may need flood insurance, and how to ensure your home or business is protected.
- FEMA Flood Map Service Center: Use this tool to understand the flood risk in your specific area.
- CDC: The CDC’s robust flood resources section includes information on flood, preparation, floodwater safety, and returning home.
Tornado Safety and Preparedness
- Ready.gov/Tornadoes: This page includes information on how to recognize the signs of a tornado, as well as other preparedness, survival, and recovery tips for those facing a tornado.
- NWS: Tornado Safety: Review the steps necessary to safely prepare for and survive a tornado.
- CDC: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers information on tornado preparation, survival, and safe recovery.
- Storm Prediction Center: Keep an eye on any potential tornadoes or severe thunderstorms in your area.
- Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business: Download a PDF guide from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on how to build a safe room that can help protect your family or employees from the extreme winds of a tornado.
State Disaster Preparedness Resources
Below are links to some state-specific resources for emergency and disaster preparedness in the Southeastern U.S.
Alabama: Alabama Emergency Management Agency
Kentucky: Kentucky Emergency Management
Mississippi: Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
North Carolina: North Carolina Emergency Management Division
South Carolina: South Carolina Emergency Management Division
West Virginia: WV Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Regardless of the type of natural disaster that may strike in your area, the most important step you can take to stay safe is to be prepared. Understand the risk levels for various disasters where you live, and take steps to ensure you’re ready for what may happen before it happens. The resources above will help you to develop a greater understanding of the types of disasters you may face, as well as how to prepare, survive, and recover.