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Extension > Family > Families in Tough Times > Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery

natural disaster

Are you and your family trying to recover from a disaster?

Even if resources were “stable” before, families often need new and/or additional resources following a disaster.

These resources are here to help.

 

Immediate Assistance | Dealing with Stress | Helping Others Cope | Finances | Getting Help | Housing | For Professionals

Featured Resources

Family financial toolkit

Training: Disaster Behavioral Health

Free two-day training for qualified mental health practitioners. More

financial toolkit logo

Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit

Award-winning toolkit discusses long-term strategies and provides tools that can help you move along the road of financial recovery.

Immediate Assistance

AnswerLine — Answers basic household questions around disaster recovery like how to clean up mold and prepare food safely. Also gives referrals to University of Minnesota Extension Educators who can guide you through financial decisions related to disaster recovery. From Minnesota call 1-800-854-1678 (hours: 9 a.m. – noon and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday) or email.

Crisis Connection — Crisis counseling hotline for anyone calling from a Minnesota area code. Call them with your concerns at 866-379-6363.

Farm Information Line — Answers general farm-related questions including what to do after a flood. From Minnesota area codes, call 1-800-232-9077 (hours: 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; voicemail available after hours) or email.

Minnesota Farmer Assistance Network (MFAN) Minnesota Department of Agriculture — Hotline staffed by veteran financial analysts who help producers facing crises. Also includes referral services for lenders, farm business management instructors, and extension educators as well as legal advice and crisis counseling. Call them at 1-877-898-MFAN (6326) or email them your concerns.

Dealing with Stress

Trying to Understand and Cope with Disasters — Symptoms of stress and how to ease it; when to seek help.

What are Common Personal Reactions to a Disaster? — Information about common reactions and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Getting Through Tough Times: Communicating Under Pressure — Speak carefully and listen attentively.

Getting Through Tough Times: Controlling Stress — How to take care of yourself; know when to seek help.

Dealing with Stress: A Web-based Educational Series Sowing the Seeds of Hope Coalition and partners including University of Minnesota Extension — Online workshops to help those that live/work in agriculture deal with stress.

Grief and Crisis Decisions — How each stage of grief affects decision-making.

Change: Loss, Opportunity, and Resilience — When change is loss, people grieve.

After a Natural Disaster: Coping with LossUniversity of Minnesota Extension and Partners — The five stages of grieving.

After a Natural Disaster: Managing AngerUniversity of Minnesota Extension and Partners — Change how you see things, say how you feel, and calm down.

After a Natural Disaster: Ending IsolationUniversity of Minnesota Extension and Partners — Talk, ask for help, and be with people.

See more on Dealing with Stress

Helping Others Cope

Create a Family Plan Before Disaster Strikes — Create a plan that involves and protects all family members.

Children

After a Natural Disaster: Talking with ChildrenUniversity of Minnesota Extension and Partners — Accept kids’ feelings, be honest and reassuring, and let them help.

Helping your Child Cope with Natural Disaster — Treat fears with kindness and understanding.

It’s Important to Talk With Children About Natural Disasters — Make time to ask questions and listen; be available.

Children and Natural Disaster: From Fear to Hope — Limit exposure to disaster news, provide structure and help others.

After a Natural Disaster: Parenting 0-5 Year Olds — Helping children between the ages of 0 - 5 cope with disasters.

After a Natural Disaster: Your Elementary Aged Child — Help your elementary aged child get through the disaster.

After a Natural Disaster: Parenting Adolescents — Disasters present adolescents with unique opportunities and challenges.

After a Natural Disaster: A Guide for Parents — Signs of stress in kids of varying ages.

Children and Natural DisastersExtension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) — Resources for the whole family to reduce children's vulnerability to certain disasters as well as disaster preparedness in responding to and recovering from disasters.

Older Adults

Before a Natural Disaster: Planning and Preparing Tips for Older Adults — Preparation concerns for older adults.

After a Natural Disaster: Tips for Older Adults Living Alone — Tips for older adults to reduce stress and regain control.

Finances

Unit 5: Where am I financially? (From Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial toolkit)University of Minnesota Extension, North Dakota State University Extension Service, and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota — Assess your financial situation and start to make plans for long-term recovery.

Financial Recovery From a Disaster: Where do I Start? (269 K PDF) — University of Minnesota Extension and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota — Easy-to-use checklists for things to do before and after you can enter your property.

Financial Recovery From a Disaster: Communication and Documentation (100 K PDF)—University of Minnesota Extension and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota—Discusses the importance of communication and gives simple strategies for documenting your communications.

Monthly Budget/spending Plan for Families Who have Experienced a Natural Disaster (155 K PDF) — Determine monthly family expenses/income prior and during a natural disaster in order to plan for future "recovery" expenses.

Financial Information for Flood & Disaster Preparation and Recovery — Review your policy with your insurance agent before disaster strikes.

Adjusting to Suddenly Reduced Income (9.9 MB PDF) — Take into account both the emotional and financial aspects of sudden income loss.

Settling Property Insurance Claims (audio; 1:50) — Don't be in a hurry to settle your claim. Often, people are so anxious to have their home restored after a disaster, they sign off on a settlement before damages are fully discovered. Transcript

Income Tax Deductions for Property Loss (audio; 1:56) — Deductions, which are allowed for partial or total loss of personal or business property, could greatly reduce the amount of federal income taxes owed for the year the disaster occurred. Transcript

Income Tax Deductions for Property Loss

Rosemary K. Heins, Extension Educator – Family Resource Management

Reviewed January 2013 by the author.

Dealing with property loss after a disaster, like a flood or tornado, is a challenge. However, property losses from natural disaster are tax deductible. Such deductions, which are allowed for partial or total loss of personal or business property, could greatly reduce the amount of federal income taxes owed for the year the disaster occurred.

If you claim a theft or casualty loss resulting from a disaster you may be asked to show:

  • The kind of disaster and when it occurred;
  • The damage was direct result of the disaster;
  • That you were the owner of the property;
  • For business and rental property, your income tax basis in the property. In general, this is the original cost of the property plus the cost of any improvements before the loss, minus depreciation claimed for income tax purposes.
  • Fair market value before and after the disaster; and
  • Any insurance benefits or other compensation received including free repairs, restoration and clean-up from any disaster relief agencies.
  • Be sure to keep for documentation any before-and-after photographs, receipts from both cash and credit transactions, check and debit card statements, deeds, purchase contracts and professional statements. This is good supporting evidence for casualty claims.

For more details, contact your local tax preparation professional for advice. IRS offices and their website, www.irs.gov has more information on casualty losses, too.

Settling a Property Insurance Claim

Rosemary K. Heins, Extension Educator – Family Resource Management

Reviewed July 2013.

Property owners carry homeowner’s insurance to protect themselves from loss when a disaster strikes. Once the claim is being processed, don’t be in a hurry to settle your claim. Often, people are so anxious to have their home restored after a disaster, they sign off on a settlement before damages are fully discovered.

Do not settle your claim until:

  • Your property has been thoroughly inspected by an insurance adjustor and repair contractor.
  • Estimate for all damages have been prepared and you fully understand them. You, your insurance adjustor and contractor should agree on needed repairs and estimates.
  • Advance insurance payments have been calculated, deductibles have been applied and you know the total amount of your settlement.
  • You have identified damaged items you are keeping and agree with salvage deductions.
  • You have identified any items that won’t be repaired, but for which you will be paid an "appearance loss." An example of this would be hail-damaged siding.
  • And, you and your contractor understand any time limits for repairs, as required by the insurance company. Extensions usually can be granted with advance notice.

One last item of advice, contact a reputable and well-established firm or individual to have your damage repaired. Sometimes undependable workers enter a damaged area, make cheap repairs and leave before the resident discovers the repair was inadequate. Get recommendations and written contracts' for the work.

Don’t become a victim again.

Records for a Disaster Insurance Claim

Rosemary K. Heins, Extension Educator – Family Resource Management

Reviewed January 2013 by the author.

With the exception of flooding, most property losses due to a natural disaster are covered by homeowner's insurance. If you have property damage you need to contact your insurance agent to report the loss. The sooner you talk to an agent, the sooner your claim can be filed and an adjuster will look at your damage. Find out when the adjuster will visit.

Protect your property from further damage or theft. Patch roofs temporarily. Cover broken windows with boards or plastic and move household items out of the weather to a safe storage location. Take pictures of the damage beforehand if possible.

Accurate records will help you go through the recovery process. Include a list of all cleaning and repair bills, including materials, cost of rental equipment and depreciation of purchased equipment.

Maintain a list of all disaster-related living expenses, including motel and restaurant bills, home rental and car rental.

List all actual losses, including furniture, appliances, clothing, paintings, artifacts, food and equipment, regardless of your intent to replace the items. Try to document the value of each object lost. Written and videotaped household inventories, bills of sale, check and charge account records and insurance evaluations are good evidence. If you don't have these records, estimate the value and give purchase place and date of purchase.

Photograph damaged property. These pictures can also be used for tax deduction evidence.

Good records save a lot of headaches even when disaster doesn't strike you. But if it does, know what to do that will help you with the insurance claim process.

Records for a Disaster Insurance Claim (audio; 2:02) — Good records save a lot of headaches even when disaster doesn’t strike you. But if it does, know what to do that will help you with the insurance claim process. Transcript

See more on Experiencing Tough Times Now

Housing

Unit 6: Where will I live if I'm a homeowner? (From the Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit) (1.3 MB PDF) — University of Minnesota Extension, North Dakota State University Extension Service, and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota — Assess your short- and long-term housing options and possible assistance and resources available to you as a homeowner.

Unit 7: Where will I Live if I'm a renter? (From the Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit) (1.2 MB PDF) — University of Minnesota Extension, North Dakota State University Extension Service, and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota — Assess your short- and long-term housing options and possible assistance and resources available to you as a renter.

Home Insurance Claims — Keep careful records of damage and losses.

Cleaning Up After a Flood — Tips to help you clean safely. English | Spanish

Molds – Your Safe Home — Learn what molds are and how they affect you. Instructions on how to remove mold from you home. English | Spanish

Getting Help

Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial ToolkitUniversity of Minnesota Extension, North Dakota State University Extension Service, and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota — Comprehensive toolkit discusses strategies and provides tools that can help you move along the road of financial recovery.

Disaster Recovery Resources for Minnesota Families (87 K PDF) — Lists resources that can help families who experience financial difficulties.

Disaster Information (50 K PDF) — Office of the Minnesota Attorney General — Scams, landlord/tenant issues, and insurance.

Getting Through Tough Times: Identifying Sources of Support and Friendship — University of Minnesota Extension — Build your personal network.

Getting Through Tough Times: Community Agencies That Can Help — Jobs, finances, fuel, housing, clothing, health and social services.

For Professionals

Financial Preparation for Disasters and EmergenciesFEMA; co-presented by University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development — Webinar recorded April 2013 discusses how to incorporate financial preparedness tools, like Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit, into local disaster education efforts.

Flood Resources and FACTS of ResilienceUniversity of Minnesota Extension and Red River Resilience — Webinar recorded April 2013 reviews flood resources from the University of Minnesota Extension and beyond for volunteers and agency staff who are helping families prepare for floods.

Disaster Recovery Resource Fairs — Resource fairs can help communities affected by disaster.

After the Flood: Rushford's New Chapter — Beautifully illustrated summary of the research conducted after the 2007 Rushford, MN flood. Hear words of wisdom and "what worked" from those who know, disaster survivors.

 

See additional resources at Extreme Weather and other recommended resources.

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