Five Steps to Recovering From a Disaster


Photograph of of a man looking at a checklist as he inspects a building.September is National Disaster Preparedness Month—a time to get ready for disasters.

We would like to help you do that! This month we've been breaking down some of the steps of preparing for, responding to and recovering from a disaster. If you have questions, or want to share your disaster planning experience, you can get in touch with us using your preferred mode of communication: phone, email, live chat, Tweet or Facebook comment.

So far, we've talked about disaster supplies, evacuations and response plans. Now, we're going to get into recovering after an emergency. Here are five steps to take in the aftermath of a disaster:

  1. Restock your emergency supplies as quickly as possible. Sometimes, lightning does strike twice!
  2. Inspect your facility for damage and repair it. The Red Cross has directions on how to check for damage to your facility's structure and to your electricity, plumbing and heating. You should also call your insurance if you see any damage that might be covered.
  3. Help youth cope with trauma. Make mental health counselors available to youth, and look out for signs of distress. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has a hotline victims of disasters can call to get help with emotional and mental health, at 1-800-985-5990.
  4. Debrief with staff and youth. Plan a staff meeting, a a separate meeting with youth, as soon as possible after the crisis is resolved. Did your response plan work? What steps might you take to make your response to the next disaster more efficient? Talk to youth and staff about how they felt during the disaster and how they're feeling now.
  5. Revise your disaster response plan. Incorporate your new ideas and procedures. Then hold trainings or drills to make sure everybody understands and is comfortable with the new plan.

For more information about preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies, read NCFY’s FREE disaster planning manual, “Ready for Anything.” And visit us on Facebook or Twitter to tell us about your experiences recovering from disasters.

National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth | 5515 Security Lane, Suite 800 | North Bethesda, MD 20852 | (301) 608-8098 |