For you, or for those with friends and family struggling with tornado damage, here is a bit of help that should get you thinking about what to do first.
Of course, your loved ones are wondering about you, and you can register at this lovely Red Cross Safe and Well site, to let them know you still exist somewhere!
After that, though, you need someone who can think for you, so here goes—a list to clear your mind get it going in the right direction:
1. Credit Cards
If all your personal banking and credit information is strewn all over the state, I’m so sorry to have to say: You need to cancel cards and put alerts on all your accounts. Call your bank and credit agencies and get their help. Probably a password on your social security number will be important.
Of course, all major insurance agencies are looking up client addresses and preparing to be in your area soon, to save you time and grief. However, if you put in your claim now, you will be at the top of their list. So put in your claim. Don’t forget anything you have insured: house, car, pet, jewelry, etc.
3. Red Cross
Clara Barton would be so proud! The merciful volunteer group she started is still there to help you. Somewhere nearby you will find their trained volunteers being great help. Food, supplies, and shelter are their specialties. You likely have donated to their great cause; now reap from their good will and the storehouse of help you helped build.
If your disaster receives federal relief, FEMA will be there to get you more lasting shelter, either through help with rent, or loan of trailers. Their trailers may be a shocking difference from the comforts of home, but they are furnished and will keep the weather off and the family together. Or you may prefer to purchase a camper to live on your own property. Many folks do.
5. Helpers – belongings.
You will need to sort your stuff, to find what you want to keep, in a hurry. You will want people you know and trust for this job, not strangers, no matter how kind. Do not throw out things that are only wet. There are even volunteers who will want to help you restore wet photos and other important things.
6. Helpers – trash.
You will probably have to sort all the trash on your property for pick up. Let anyone who wants to help you! And many are eager and willing and able to help! Your job will be to make sure they wear their gloves and to provide them with plenty of drinking water, if you can.
Look for scammers. They will come. Be sure. Be very sure that anyone you hire to rebuild is for real. Victimization happens every day.
8. Smile (through your tears)
You are surrounded by support, helpers who want to see you make it through this horror. Therefore, ask for help! Don’t give up! You will find that people really want to give you help! Don’t give up hope! Don’t forget to stop and rest, eat, get sleep! For some reason, you are alive…
9. Special for all helpers:
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is stand back. Allow the professionals to have some space. Allow the victims to have some space. Do not assume you are the answer for this emergency. If you want to donate, please wait with clothing until the shelters say it is needed. What they REALLY need is
- food, water
- boxes, bags
- gloves, masks, eye gear
- formula, bottles, diapers
- feminine items
Donate the above to shelters, Red Cross, churches, etc.
- pet food, leashes, old towels, walking services
Donate these to animal shelters
If everyone who needs help will be smart enough to ask for it, and if everyone who is aching to be of some help will be smart enough to give it gently and wisely, our disasters will prove to be beautiful learning experiences for us all.