Dealing with the Aftermath of Natural Disasters

Dealing with the Aftermath of Natural Disasters is something I feel isn’t often discussed – BEFORE an unsavory situation occurs. It doesn’t matter what kind of natural disaster we are talking about – we pretty much need to follow all of the same steps going forward. Think of it like dealing with the standard steps of grieving, you need to work your way through it all so you can move forward.

Dealing with the Aftermath of Natural Disasters showing an earthquake mess

There are probably a few more steps in here that you might experience, I am just covering the big basics. The bottom line? If YOU have survived a natural disaster, you CAN move forward and get past all of this.

Dealing with the Aftermath of Natural Disasters

What constitutes a natural disaster? Natural disasters are catastrophic events with atmospheric, geological, and hydrological origins (e.g., droughts, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides) that can cause fatalities, property damage and social environmental disruption.

Whew- isn’t that a mouthful?

Basically, it is anything that the planet can throw at us that majorly disrupts our way of life.

Knowing that, we can plan ahead for only so much. We can have our first aid, food stores, water supply, and bug out bags – but depending on the situation? We may or may not have the access to all of that. Let’s look at what we might have to deal with:

Handling the Initial Shock

It can be very shocking at first when you see your home severely damaged by a storm, but you have to remain calm and collected.

I remember when tornadoes hit Stoughton Wisconsin in 2005. There was an F3 that leveled a few homes and farms – spreading contents everywhere. The local community pulled together and volunteers combed the area to help clean up and collect belongings for the original owners.

A mom brought her little girl along, maybe seven years old, thinking it would not only be a great service opportunity, but a lesson on nature, disaster preparation, and survival.

It backfired big time.

That poor kiddo was traumatized at seeing toys spread across a field, some speared by corn stalks. The mere thought of that happening to HER belongings was more than she could conceptualize and they had to leave.

She is probably still in therapy to this very day – the poor kiddo.

That is the thing to keep in mind though, it IS shocking to see the aftermath.

  • The remnants of your belongings scattered across an area.
  • The watermarks up to the second story of your flooded home.
  • Your yard covered in feet of sand and silt.
  • Your belongings under layers of rubble.

You need to be mentally prepared for WHAT you might be looking at after an extreme event – maybe watch a few videos, together as a family, to get an idea what might happen so there are no surprises.

Here is a great video on Earthquakes: Earthquakes 101 | National Geographic

Aftermath of Natural Disasters: Assess the Extent of the Damage

Sometimes storm damage can look worse than it really is. A few shingles missing from a roof isn’t really as bad as it seems, but broken windows or caved in structures can be quite bad.

It is important to decide if your structure is safe enough to actually stay in post-disaster. Can your windows be boarded up? Do you need to add a support beam or two for floors? Is everything soaked beyond belief?

Eventually, insurance will get involved, etc – but from the history of events in the United States? It can take months, if not years, for everything to be settled. Just look at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. That is the lack of efficiency at its best – with government fund mismanagement and insurance fraud.

It will also need to be defensible against rioters or looters – there might be other, more desperate people out there to be aware of.

You need to decide if your home is safe enough to live in right now, or not.

free shipping banner

What to do if your house is gone

Severe disasters can sometimes completely level houses or damage them to a point beyond repair, so you will need to figure out if a shelter or temporary housing is the best option.

Rough it

If you have camping supplies, a tent, or even a pop-up camper, you can probably make it through without having to leave the area if the environment is safe enough. It certainly beats those FEMA trailers that turned out to not only be toxic but designed for a short-term living situation. We are talking six months or so.

Public Shelters

The Red Cross often sets up shelters in schools and community centers. This may be a viable option – but those are usually build on the cheapest land and that land gets hit the hardest. Schools are often leveled in an earthquake.

Friends and family

If none of those are workable options for you then seeing if there is a family couch you can surf might be the next best step. I know I could have stayed with my mom in an instant if I needed to – and have offered my sister in Florida a safe haven when hurricanes have invaded.

They will no doubt be the most understanding if there are a lot of personal items that are destroyed. You can try to regroup and look ahead for a brighter future.

Dealing with the Aftermath of Natural Disasters picture of flooding

Don’t Try to Deal with it All by Yourself

You should seek out help after a natural disaster to have your home at least somewhat restored. If a disaster is serious enough, many people around the world or country will donate, even the government at some points.

While this is true, it can take a LOT of time for the funds to trickle down to those who actually need it. Some insurance companies are awesome and set up “drive-thru” clinics to speed the process along.

People will come in droves to assist – usually bringing food, water, clothes, etc and then, the manpower will come. Even kids in church youth groups will arrive to help clear debris and restore some semblance of normalcy once an area is deemed safe.

This is where you can have some faith in humanity – they WILL pull together and help you, mostly the average Joe.

Aftermath of Natural Disasters: Tensions can be High

You’ll have a lot of emotions running through your head after a disaster, but learn to handle them rather than lashing out on people who couldn’t have done anything about it.

Everyone involved are going through some of the 7 stages of grief:

  • Shock and denial. This is a state of disbelief and numbed feelings.
  • Pain and guilt.
  • Anger and bargaining.
  • Depression.
  • The upward turn.
  • Reconstruction and working through.
  • Acceptance and hope.

While you do need to protect you and yours, you need to realize you are part of a larger community that is going through the same thing.

When downtown Sun Prairie exploded, I couldn’t believe all of the fundraisers and volunteers! I still see #SunPraireStrong bumper stickers and T-shirts to this day – and some of those who received help? They have gone on to pay it forward for other unfortunate incidents in our community.

The bottom line when dealing with the Aftermath of Natural Disasters? It is all about your mindset. Be ready for what you MAY experience and know that we can do anything, for a short period of time. If the people you love have survived, you have saved everything that is really the most important in life. You will be OK going forward, even if it is a rocky journey at times.

Tornado aftermath of a tree that fell through a house

Other articles you may enjoy:

Earthquake Preparedness and Safety Tips

It’s easy to panic during the chaos of an earthquake. Focusing on emergency preparedness planning before the tremors start can avoid damage and injury. A little earthquake preparedness can go a long way.

Earthquake Preparedness and Safety Tips

For those living on fault lines, it’s essential to have regular earthquake drills, so responses during an actual earthquake become automatic. Being aware of earthquake safety is especially important because many quakes last only seconds.

Family members should be mindful of what to do, where the safe places are in a room (for example, along interior walls or under a sturdy desk or table), and what areas to avoid, such as windows or walls with objects hung on them. Families should also have a plan for reuniting after a disaster.

Scientists have not yet really determined a way to predict an earthquake. That is why, when a strong earthquake strikes, a lot of people gets injured, or even killed, and properties gets damaged. The only thing we can do, if we live in an area near fault lines, is to be prepared everyday for such eventualities.

Earthquake Preparedness and Safety Tips:

Before an earthquake is also an excellent time to stock up on emergency supplies. An earthquake emergency kit should contain bottled water, candles, flashlights with batteries, a battery-operated radio, non-perishable food (including food for family pets and a manual can opener), and a basic first-aid kit.

You will never know what will happen after a quake, thus, you should always have an emergency kit for everyone in your household. Each kit must contain at least one gallon of water, food supply for at least three days (you should select non-perishable food), and a first aid kit.

You should ensure that you regularly change the food and water in your emergency kit. The food and water in your kit will be of little use if they are already not fit to eat or drink. Instead of saving your life, such might even exacerbate your situation.

Know where the Mains are

Earthquakess might cause fire from gas leaks and electricity. Thus, it is important that you know where the main switches of your utilities are so that you can turn them off when needed.

Other ways to prepare a home for an earthquake:

  • Ensure that heave appliances and furniture are anchored to the ground
  • Heavy items like mirrors or pictures should not be hung on walls over couches, beds, or chairs
  • Heavy objects should be stored on lower shelves, and flammable products should be kept latched in cabinets on bottom shelves

What To Do During An Earthquake

This is a big part of Earthquake Preparedness: knowing what to do when it is happening. Those who are indoors during an earthquake should remain inside, and move to somewhere safe in the home.

The first thing you and your family should do is to stay away from objects that might fall off. Stay away from book cases, cabinets, and hanging objects, such as chandeliers, or ceiling fan.

During an earthquake, it is wiser that you stay put, particularly under sturdy tables or door frames. Do not run around or even attempt to get out of the house. There are more dangerous things outside your house that could injure you, such as lampposts and cars.

Those standing against a wall should protect their heads with their arms and hands, while those taking cover under a sturdy table should grab hold of it so they can move with it.

Those who are outdoors during an earthquake should move to an open space, out of the path of potential falling objects, and away from trees, power lines, and buildings.

Make sure that the emergency kit that you prepared is easily accessible. If possible, place it in a location where you and your family will run into during a quake.

Stay away from the kitchen. One of the most dangerous places in the house during an earthquake is the kitchen because there are many pots and pans hanging around and drawers full of knives and cutlery. Furthermore, there is a danger of a gas leak in the kitchen that might cause fire.

If you are outside

Those outdoors should remain in the open space until the shaking stops. Those who are driving when an earthquake starts should pull over and remain in their cars. Drivers should avoid stopping on overpasses, under bridges or underpasses, or by power lines and large trees.

What To Do After An Earthquake

The first thing to do after an earthquake is to assist anyone who may have been injured in the quake. Once injuries have been assessed, the next step is to check the building for earthquake damage. If the building seems to be damaged, residents should leave quickly and carefully, as the building may need to be inspected by professionals.

Earthquake Preparedness

Do not attempt to light a match or a candle immediately after the quake; you are not sure if there are gas leaks. Lighting up a match might ignite a fire, so be very careful. If you can, shut off the main gas valve if you smell gas.

If a gas leak is suspected, the area must be evacuated immediately, and the fire department and gas company notified. If the power is out, large appliances should be unplugged to avoid damage from a power surge when the electricity is turned back on.

You should also call the gas company once you are away from the gas leak. Do not try to call, especially using your mobile phone, near gas leaks.

If sparks or broken wires can be seen, or if burnt insulation is smelled, the power should be turned off at the source. If turning off the circuit breakers or fuse box means stepping in water, an electrician should be consulted before proceeding further.

There will sure be aftershocks after an earthquake, so do not let your guard down even if your house is intact and all the members of your family are well. Be sure to check the news for information about the quake and other important updates.

Can you think of anything we missed? Let us know!

Other articles you may find helpful:

Emergency Tips For Staying Safe In An Earthquake

Emergency Tips For Staying Safe In An Earthquake? Mother nature knows how to give us the best and the worst, and how we deal with it determines the outcome.

Earthquake safety tips

Like most natural disasters, you can predict, an earthquake can come at any time and in whatever magnitude it chooses.

Emergency Tips For Staying Safe In An Earthquake

The only way to walk “free” from the ills of an earthquake is to prepare yourself for the possible effects that may occur. But the question has been asked countless times how to prepare for such a disaster. We have compiled a few tips to consider for the before, during, and after-effects of an earthquake. Read on…

Before An Earthquake:

The first step to preparing for an earthquake is to consider the three most important areas, your home, family, and community. Practicing the fundamental movements is vital, so one would know precisely how to respond, such as the drop, cover, and hold on moves. All the emergency contact numbers are also a must-have for all members.

Other factors to consider when planning for an earthquake are to create an emergency exit and assemble areas in your home and the community by extension. You need to do a proper tour of your home and detail the activities to do if it occurs while they are there. Also, an emergency kit with the following items should be in close reach at all times:

  • Non-perishable Foods + Water
  • Medication + Prescription
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Flashlights
  • Petty Cash for emergency payments
  • Your car with adequate gas for travel
  • First-Aid Kit (Alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, bandage tape, dust masks, battery-operated radios, cotton, etc.)

I like the offerings from MediTac. They have free shipping for orders over $50, and their medical kits go beyond standard first aid. I think they are great for survival as they can help with everything from bleeding control to the survivalist.

Don’t just take my word for it – look into it yourself:

free shipping banner

You need to ensure your main electrical switches, gas, and main water lines disconnection methods are understood if it needs to be switched off by any member of the family.

Every home needs a family meeting to discuss the details of natural disasters such as these and ensure everyone is up to date on the basics. Do you live in a tsunami-prone area? Not sure? Then, you may need to find out.

Doing your research and contacting the relevant disaster-preparedness authorities in your area will also provide you with essential details on whether you live in an area where earthquakes occur frequently or not.

The safety of yourself, your family, and your home depends on how proactive you are. As you prepare your home and family for the onset of a potential earthquake, do not forget your pets. They may not understand what is happening, and they solely depend on you to protect them.

General Checklist For Preparing Your Homes:

  • Heavy objects should be placed on lower shelves.
  • Store breakables (glass, bottles, utensils, etc.) in closed lower areas of your cabinet.
  • Repair electrical and gas leakage issues.
  • Secure large appliances and furniture such as refrigerators, water heaters, washing & drying machines, etc. by strapping to walls or via floor bolting.
  • Ensure all flammable items and liquids are in areas that won’t allow them to spill in the case of heavy vibration.
  • Do not place heavy objects close to exit areas like doors, windows, or staircases.
  • Trim dangling trees from over your homes or driveway.
Emergency Tips For Staying Safe In An Earthquake

During An Earthquake: Emergency Tips For Staying Safe In An Earthquake

In the past few decades, reports have shown that most casualties of an earthquake occur as a result of what takes place during the event (fallen objects, moving, etc.). Either concussion from flying or falling objects or other vibrating-cause effects.

If you happen to be inside during an earthquake, experts recommend that you stay indoors and take cover from the potential falling or dangling objects. While, if you are outdoors, stay put and never try to venture inside until authorities say it is safe to do so.

During the earthquake, here are a few “DOs & DON’Ts” to consider:

While Indoors…

  • Drop (to the floor) and take cover under a desk or a table. This action will help to prevent direct objects from hitting you. Also, ensure you hold on firmly until the vibration stops.
  • Stay inside until all shaking has ceased. Objects may still be dangling, and with an aftershock, they may fall and hurt you.
  • Do not stand close to high-rise furniture like bookcases and shelves, nor should you stand close to windows and lighting fixtures.
  • If you are lying down, move swiftly to go under the bed, but if not possible, use a pillow to cover your head and face in case objects or glass may shatter and fly.
  • If you are a wheelchair user, roll to a safe location and lock the wheels. Then protect your head and neck from potential moving objects. If possible, it is safe to carry a small cushion while in a wheelchair, as you can use it to protect your head and face.
  • In the case of no covering being in close range, move as fast as possible to a doorway and brace yourself between the jambs until the shaking stops (even though it may not be an ideal place according to some experts, it still works).

While Outdoors…

  • Drop-in an open space that has no buildings, powerlines, trees, or where no loose objects can reach you easily.
  • If you are driving, safely park in a hazard-free zone and pull the handbrakes. Ensure there are no trees, powerlines, or buildings that can fall on your car. Also, it is essential to avoid parking along bridges or overpasses.
  • If you are in a stadium or theatre, stay put in your seat and protect your head and neck. Do not try to venture out as there can be dangling objects ready to fall.
Emergency Tips For Staying Safe In An Earthquake

After An Earthquake: Emergency Tips For Staying Safe In An Earthquake

As you stay in position until the shaking has stopped, be sure to watch your every step on your way to safety. Always keep your hand or pillow on your head to prevent being hit by dangling objects.

However, there are strong possibilities of aftershocks occurring even if it was a minor earthquake, and these too can still be dangerous. Wherever you were for safety, stay there for a few minutes and check if after vibrations are happening. If not, move swiftly (but with care!) to an open assembly area.

When you are out, contact an emergency portal (whichever way possible) and let them know of the impact on the area. They will dispatch teams to do a damage assessment. While you wait and recover, check for your friends and family to see if everyone is doing fine.

Amidst everything, experts recommend during the event, one SHOULD NOT PANIC as this can allow you to forget every preparation tips you planned. With our Emergency Tips For Staying Safe In An Earthquake, you should be all set!

Other posts you may enjoy: