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Disaster Preparedness and Assistance

How well you respond to a disaster depends on how well you’ve prepared. Don’t be afraid to talk with your family about the possibility of a hurricane, fire, tornado, or flood. Families that work together to prepare for a disaster cope better than those that don’t. The following resources can help you make a plan, keep you informed, and help you after a disaster.

Jump to: Before a Disaster    During a Disaster    After a Disaster

Before a Disaster

The time to prepare for an emergency or disaster is long before any disaster. Take time now to create a disaster plan for yourself and your loved ones, including your pets. Making a plan before a disaster hits helps family members react wisely. The following resources will help you stay informed and prepare for a variety of disasters and emergencies. 

Staying Informed

ReadyNC App: You can download the free ReadyNC App (available for iPhone and Android) to get real-time information on:

  • Current weather conditions
  • Real-time traffic conditions where you are, by route or region
  • Where to report nearby power outages
  • Open shelters near you (including ones which accept pets)
  • Counties being evacuated
  • How to prepare for and be safe during typical hazards that impact NC
  • How to create an emergency plan and kit
  • Real-time stream and river flooding information
  • Whom to call for help when disasters strike

Wireless Emergency Alerts: During an emergency, public safety and government officials send messages directly to WEA capable cell phones. You don’t have to download an app or subscribe to a service to get the alerts. You just have to have a WEA capable phone and get service from a participating provider. Most phones made after 2012 are WEA capable. Contact your cell phone provider to find out if they participate in the WEA Alerts program.

Visit the FCC's WEA Alerts Frequently Asked Questions web page

FEMA Text Messages: You can sign up to receive text messages from FEMA with preparedness information. Standard message and data rates will apply. 

  • To receive preparedness tips: text PREPARE to 43362

  • For a list of all topics available: text LIST to 43362

Visit FEMA's Get Tech Ready page for more information.

Making a Plan

ReadyNC Family Emergency Plan: The NC Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management created ReadyNC to help NC citizens get ready for disasters and stay informed when disasters occur. You will find information about how to make a disaster plan; what should be in your emergency kit; and much more. The website also includes tips for senior citizens, families with special needs, and pet owners. Looking for information about preparing for a specific natural or man-made disaster? You will find it under the Stay Informed tab.

Get more information about making a plan and download a Family Emergency Plan.

NC Disaster Information Center: This site offers fact sheets to help you prepare for a disaster. Fact sheet topics include: hurricane preparedness; meal preparation when the power is out; foods that require no cooking; storm safety in high rise buildings; and more.

Visit the NC Disaster Information Center's Preparedness Fact Sheet web page

Ready.Gov: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Preparedness web pages were created to fully educate the public on disasters of every description and what must be done to responsibly prepare, respond, and recover should a disaster occur. The site includes resource pages focused on natural disasters, pandemics, home fires, technological and accidental hazards, and terrorist hazards. Also included are pages devoted to special considerations you may need to address in times of emergency and how you can get involved in your local community's response efforts.

Visit Ready.Gov

Register Your Phone with Smart 911: Information received by 9-1-1 call centers is often limited based on the type of phone a caller is using. Smart911 is a free, secure, and private national program that allows citizens to register phones and create profiles that provide the details 9-1-1 operators may need in order to assist them during an emergency. When a caller uses a phone registered with Smart911 in a municipality that has installed the Smart911 technology the 9-1-1 systems recognizes the number and automatically displays the profile on the screen of the operator who receives the call.

At a time when you may be panicked, or unable to communicate, or it could be unsafe to communicate, Smart911 ensures that the details you would need to tell 9-1-1 are immediately available in the event you cannot verbally provide them.

Learn more about Smart 911

Planning for Special Situations

Ready Kids: The Ready Kids website features age-appropriate, step-by-step instructions on what families can do to be better prepared and the role  children can play in this effort. It was designed as a tool to help parents and teachers educate children in grades 4-5 about emergencies and how they can help get their family prepared. Ready Kids is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Ready campaign, a national public service advertising campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, potential terrorist attacks and other emergencies.

Visitors to the site will find interactive games and material that is easily downloaded - designed so that children and their families will create an emergency kit and make a plan they can follow in times of emergency. Material is available to assist teachers and parents as well.

Visit Ready Kids web page

Senior Citizens: The American Red Cross provides tips to help senior citizens create a personal support network made up of individuals who will check in on them in an emergency, to ensure their wellness and to give assistance if needed.

Visit the American Red Cross Senior Emergency Preparedness web page

People with Alzheimers and Dementia: Disasters can be especially upsetting and confusing for individuals with dementia.If you have a family member with Alzheimer's or dementia the Alzheimer's Association offers tips to help.

Visit the Alzheimer's Association's Disaster Planning web page

People with Disabilities: Mobility, hearing, learning, or seeing disabilities create specific needs that must be addressed to be able to respond to an emergency. The American Red Cross offers a Guide to Disaster Safety for People with Disabilities. It can help you build a plan that includes you or your family member’s specific need. It also provides tips about managing communication, equipment, and service animals.

Visit the American Red Cross Guide to Disaster Safety for People with Disabilities web page

Pets: The ASPCA provides information on how to ensure your pets will be taken care of in a disaster.

Visit the ASPCA pet disaster preparedness web page

Active Military or Veterans: Each military installation has a Readiness and Emergency Management Flight. It provides emergency management materials and information to help military and family members prepare for emergencies. 

Business Owners: Ready.Gov provides tools to help businesses create a disaster plan that addresses the impact of many hazards. The website offers tools to help with the five steps of emergency preparedness for businesses: Program Management, Planning, Implementation, Testing and Exercises, and Program Improvement. 

Visit Ready.Gov's Business Emergency Preparedness web page

Financial Preparedness 

Americans at all income levels have experienced the challenges of rebuilding their lives after a disaster or other emergency. Having access to personal finance, insurance, medical, and other records is crucial for quickly and efficiently starting the recovery process. Take time now to collect these important records and secure them in a protected place that you can get to quickly should you need to evacuate during a disaster. 

Emergency Financial First Aid Kit and Personal Disaster Preparedness Guide: Created by FEMA and Operation HOPE, these flexible tools are designed to help individuals and families at all income levels collect and secure the documentation needed should disaster strike. They also include helpful tips and suggestions regarding how to safeguard important information, what to do in case of an emergency, and how to work with others to strengthen community preparedness.

Important Legal Documents for Emergency Preparedness: Prepared by Just Great Lawyers, this list shares information about the documents you will want to include in your financial preparedness kit, and shares information about where your documentation should be stored. Lists are categorized by: family, financial, legal, and medical. 


During a Disaster

The following resources can help you during a disaster. Take time now to become familiar with them so you know what to do and whom to call should a disaster hit. 

ReadyNC App: You can download the free ReadyNC App (available for iPhone and Android) to get real-time information on:

  • Current weather conditions
  • Real-time traffic conditions where you are, by route or region
  • Where to report nearby power outages
  • Open shelters near you (including ones which accept pets)
  • Counties being evacuated
  • Real-time stream and river flooding information
  • Whom to call for help when disasters strike

NC 2-1-1: NC 2-1-1 is a part of NC's State Emergency Response Team and may be activated in a disaster. You can dial 2-1-1 from any phone to reach a compassionate, trained call specialist 24/7/365 who has access to real time information on shelters, evacuation routes, and more. NC 2-1-1 call specialists can also help you find food, meal sites, water, and other recovery and rebuilding resources after a disaster, as well. 

NC Disaster Information Center:  The NC Disaster Information Center has fact sheets with information on evacuating safely as well as setting up a safe place in your home to ride out a storm.

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Don’t wait until the last minute to leave, making last-minute preparations in hopes of saving your possessions. Save your life. 

Visit the NC Disaster Information Center for more information on how to evacuate safely

If you don't evacuate, you need to set up a safe place at your home. This place will shelter you and your family from danger as the storm passes through your area. You should carefully choose and prepare a safe place to ride out the storm. 

Visit the NC Disaster Information Center for more information on setting up a safe place in your home to ride out a storm

FEMA Text Messages: You can get shelter information from FEMA through text message. To search for open shelters: text SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA)


After a Disaster

Recovering from a disaster is a gradual process. Safety is a primary issue, as are your mental and physical well-being. The following resources provide information to help you after a disaster.

Post-Disaster Reunification of Children: A Nationwide Approach illustrates the significance of whole community collaboration and inclusive emergency planning by providing a comprehensive overview of the coordination processes necessary to reunify children separated from their parents or legal guardians in the event of a large-scale disaster and reflects how the whole community - to include nongovernmental organizations such as Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, faith-based and community organizations, disability and pediatric organizations, Federal and private sector partners, and civic action committees - can work together to achieve one wide ranging mission.

ReadyNC Recover and Rebuild: ReadyNC provides information on the following topics to help NC citizens who have been affected by a disaster. You can find information on the following by visiting the ReadyNC Recover and Rebuild web page:

  • Individual Assistance
  • Community Assistance
  • Cleaning Up
  • Filing Insurance
  • Utilities
  • And, more
Let Your Family Members Know you are Safe: After a disaster, knowing that you are safe brings your loved ones great peace of mind. The American Red Cross Safe and Well web page allows you to register yourself as "Safe and Well" and share a brief message for your family. You can also search for family member who've registered. 


Need more information?

If you didn't find what you need on this page or need more information on local resources, dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162. Our call specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

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