This season of strong hurricanes and tropical storms has uprooted the lives and routines of hundreds of thousands of people in the southeastern U.S. and its territories. Hurricane Harvey alone brought an estimated $75 billion in losses.
When you have a chronic illness, dealing with the issues created by these unexpected storms also disrupts your health. Below are some resources that might help.
See also: “How to be prepared for emergencies.”
For help locating relief resources in your local area:
- Call 211 or visit 211.org. United Way Worldwide runs this program to connect people to services that can help with any number of emergencies including disaster relief. Calling is free and confidential.
- Check with your health insurance provider to see if they can help locating resources.
- Aetna’s Resources for Living Services offers help finding resources as well as counseling and coping services. Call 888-238-6232 or visit this link.
For medical/health needs
Contact your health insurance provider, they may offer:
- Emergency supplies of medication, or set up alternate delivery locations.
- Non-emergency “teledoc” services at no charge.
- Out-of-network provider/facility access at no additional charge (in-network costs applied).
- Medicare specific information can be found here on the Medicare website.
Emotional coping assistance
The Disaster Distress Line, operated by through FEMA/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will connect you with a professional to cope with the emotional distress of the event. Calling is toll-free, confidential and multilingual. You can reach the line by calling: 800-985-5990. Or simply text “TalkWithUs” to 66746. Learn more here.
Financial or homeowner’s insurance needs
- Individual Disaster Financial Assistance through FEMA is the quickest way to register for assistance (regardless of income). Call 800-621-3362 any day from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. or visit disasterassistance.gov.
- Inquire with the Federal Housing Administration (HUD) for resources for housing accommodations by calling 888-297-8685 or visiting hud.gov.
- If you have homeowners or flood insurance, contact your insurance company and start the claim process as soon as you can. Take photos and video of any damage as you are able.
- If you do not have homeowners or flood insurance, try the Small Business Administration (SBA), which has federal funding to provide loans to businesses and homeowners.
Actions to consider
- Contact your mortgage provider to keep them informed of the situation. If you do not know your mortgage lender’s information, you may be able to find it by calling 888-679-6377, the Mortgage Electronic Registration System.
- Contact credit card companies upfront if you don’t think you’ll be able to make payments. Creditors should work with you in this situation.
- Contact utility providers and have service suspended if your home is not livable (this will save money temporarily to go toward other expenses).
- The IRS is allowing victims to take loans against certain savings accounts without penalty for use toward recovery costs.
A list of resources from the governor’s office: gov.texas.gov/hurricane. Here are some highlights:
- Food: Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can offer short-term food assistance benefits to families recovering from disaster. Find eligibility guidelines here.
- Shelter: Call 800-733-2767 for local, open shelters. Visit femavachotels.com to find hotels accommodating evacuees. Or try tpwd.texas.gov for state parks offering camping spaces free of charge.
- Insurance: To reach the Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Help Line, call 800-252-3439.
- Flooded roads and road closure information is available at drivetexas.org or by calling 800-452-9292.
- Find resources provided by the city of Houston at houstonrecovers.org.
- Find resources at floridadisaster.org, including a listing of shelters by county.
- Find road and travel information by calling 511.
Puerto Rico resources
- For information and assistance from the government of Puerto Rico, call 202-800-3133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find information at pr.gov/unitedforpuertorico and en español.
- For updates on power, visit: energy.gov or wapa.gov.
- For updates on the mail system, click here.
- Find a list of resources for Puerto Rico from HUD at hud.gov. Also note FEMA and other U.S. government resources apply to Puerto Rico residents.
- Recursos en español:
- Para información y asistencia del gobierno de Puerto Rico, llame al 202-800-3133 o envíe un correo electrónico a maria1@PRFAA.PR.gov.
- Teléfonos de emergencias y enlaces de interés.
- Números de emergencia y otra información de seguridad del gobierno de los Estados Unidos.
Virgin Islands resources
- The Virgin Islands Recovery hub includes a resources section with links to hurricane relief news, disaster services, disaster loan information and more: usvirecovery.org.
- Virgina Islands Water & Power Authority updates are available on its website and Facebook page.
- Find a list of resources for the Virgin Islands from HUD at hud.gov. Also note FEMA and other U.S. government resources apply to Virgin Islands residents.