Support Programs for Immediate and Long-Term Disaster Relief

volunteer at food bank provides canned goods

Recovering from a natural disaster is an arduous process, requiring time, resources, and fortitude on multiple fronts. While it’s undoubtedly a difficult journey, nobody has to go through the process alone.

Whether you need short-term relief or long-term assistance, there are organizations ready to provide the services and support necessary to help you return to normal as soon as possible.

Short-Term Disaster Relief

Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP)

In the immediate aftermath of a disaster event, nothing is more important than finding adequate nutrition. D-SNAP provides food assistance to low-income households struggling with food loss after a natural disaster.

Before disaster survivors can qualify for DSNAP benefits, several criteria must be met, including:

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) must approve states to initiate the program.
  • The President must declare Individual Assistance for the affected area.
  • Your state must request FNS permission to enact the program.

Once approved, disaster survivors can receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that they can use like a debit card to buy food from local providers.

To apply, look to local media coverage for application sites, days and times of operations, and specific requirements related to your particular disaster event.

Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) Program

For many disaster survivors, finding a place to live is a pressing problem. The TSA program is here to help by providing short-term housing assistance for those impacted by a disaster event.

The program is intended to provide support for those who cannot return to their homes after a disaster. Once congregate shelters close, the TSA program steps in to provide short-term lodging for eligible survivors. Often this means that TSA will directly pay for a hotel or motel room; however, room charges and amenities are not covered by the TSA program.

While the program provides assistance for 5 to 14 days from its implementation date, extensions may be granted if continued housing is required.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is one of the most renowned and well-recognized aid organizations available. Not only is the organization present during the initial recovery process, but their services continue after the initial emergency response has concluded.

The Red Cross provides both short- and long-term financial assistance to households engaged in the recovery process. In addition, the organization implements grants that encourage community-based recovery services.

The Red Cross responds to more than 62,000 disasters every year, providing a vast array of services. Those in need of relief can contact their local Red Cross to attain the support necessary to hasten the recovery process.

Substance & Mental Health Administration

After experiencing a natural disaster, it’s common for you or your loved ones to experience emotional distress, which can manifest in a variety of ways.

The Substance & Mental Health Administration provides several ways for disaster survivors to achieve positive mental health outcomes. For immediate needs, the organization offers a disaster distress helpline that provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling.

Those who need assistance can contact SAMHSA services at 800.308.3515.

Moreover, the administration offers a mobile app that provides substance abuse and mental health services that are readily available for those who experience a disaster event.

Long-Term Disaster Recovery

Internal Revenue Service

The federal government offers a variety of services for those impacted by a natural disaster, and the IRS has many tools at its disposal. Disaster survivors might be eligible for everything from modified tax returns to extended or delayed payments.

Tax relief is often specific to a disaster event, and those looking to make modifications should contact the IRS directly about their particular scenario.

Local Rebuild Programs

Local government and charitable programs can provide the financial support and resources necessary to begin repairing the damage of a natural disaster. While these offerings vary by location, local initiatives will strive to provide refunds for the cost of repairs or provide the resources to get the ball rolling. Check with your local government for municipal or county aid programs and dial 2-1-1 for information on local charitable programs.

Project Porchlight

Rebuilding your finances after a natural disaster can be a challenging process, and most people believe that the right coaching and support would improve their financial picture.

With Project Porchlight, financial counseling services are available for free. The program is a one-year service that provides support for a step-by-step recovery plan that includes counseling, referrals, monthly check-ins and aid application assistance.

With a team of experienced HUD-approved counselors ready to help, Project Porchlight can hasten the financial recovery process.

Get the Support You Need

After a natural disaster, full recovery can feel like an impossible task. Whether that includes finding food or restoring financial peace, resources are available to help you.

Natural disasters don’t discriminate, and they disrupt lives and communities. The recovery process can bring us back together. Some things will never be the same, but with the right help and support, it’s possible to achieve a new normal.

Tagged in Disaster recovery, Helpful resources, Expert insights, Navigating change

Kate Bulger is Director of Business Development at MMI and manages the partnerships of MMI’s post-disaster financial recovery services.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.