If you are seeking loved ones in the wake of a hurricane, visit the American Red Cross’ Safe and Well website. There you can post names and view lists of those already posted. It is updated continuously.

Finding Loved Ones

filing disaster claim fema
FEMA office helps handle disaster claims. Dreamstime

Getting Assistance

Register for assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or online at www.fema.gov.

Most Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week:

Avoiding Disease & Sickness

If you are in a affected area, protecting your health and safety is critical. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have many important recommendations regarding handling of food, disinfecting water, preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, avoiding floodwater and mosquitoes, and much more.

Donations & Volunteers

If you want to help by contributing goods and services, call the hurricane hotline at 1-800-440-6728.

The current critical need is for monetary donations to assist organizations at work providing relief in affected areas. These include the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and others. Donations can also be made directly through the American Red Cross.

Safety With Food & Water

In the wake of a hurricane, the following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are critically important for people in affected areas.


Identify and throw away food that may not be safe to eat, including:

* Food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water.

* Canned foods that are bulging, opened, or damaged.

* Food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.

* Perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been above 40 degrees F.

* Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 40 degree F. or below can be refrozen or cooked. If cans have come in contact with floodwater or storm water, remove the labels, wash the cans, and dip them in a solution of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water. Re-label the cans with a marker.

Store food safely. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Add block ice or dry ice to your refrigerator if the electricity is expected to be off longer than 48 hours. Wear heavy gloves when handling ice.


Listen to and follow public announcements.Local authorities will tell you if tap water is safe to drink or to use for cooking or bathing. If the water is not safe to use, follow local instructions to use bottled water or to boil or disinfect water for cooking, cleaning, or bathing.

To correctly boil or disinfect water, hold water at a rolling boil for one minute to kill any bacteria. If you can’t boil water, add 1/8 teaspoon (about 0.75 mL) of newly purchased, unscented liquid household bleach per gallon of water. Stir the water well, and let it stand for 30 minutes before using it. You can also use water-purifying tablets instead of boiling water or bleach.

For infants, use only pre-prepared canned baby formula. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with treated water. Clean children’s toys that have come in contact with floodwater, using a solution of 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water, and allow to air dry.

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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort