How To Help After a Natural Disaster

Natural disasters strike every year and the rest of the nation or the entire world watch the images on the news in horror, our hearts break for the lives lost, homes and businesses destroyed, and the overall destruction that mother nature can inflict. Many are compelled to help, we want to take action to ease the pain and help rebuild and repair.

There are several ways to help after a natural disaster, for anyone wishing to help, take a look at the information we’ve provided to make sure your time, money, or goods are most effectively used to help those in need. When it comes to natural disasters, often times volunteers need to be prepared beforehand.

How and Where to Volunteer after a Natural Disaster?

First and foremost you need to make sure that you and your own family are safe and secure. Often, well-intentioned people make the mistake of entering a dangerous or fluid situation, creating more problems than help. If you are outside of the danger area and want to help you should contact an organization such as CERT, Medical Reserve Corp, or the Fire Corp in your area.

The best way to facilitate that help is if you are already a member and trained to assist in your community through an organization. If that is not possible donations are the best way to get help to those who need it. Usually, an evacuation center will welcome supplies of food and water as well as monetary donations to get anything else needed.

Disaster Relief Volunteers

To become a disaster volunteer you must contact an organization such as CERT or the Medical Reserve Corp to qualify and participate in their training and certification.

What does a Disaster Response Volunteer do?

A disaster response volunteer assists in providing supplies to emergency workers or food and water to victims of a natural disaster. You may also be assisting in preparation for an impending disaster. The professionals will handle anything involving risk or danger as they are highly trained, but they need your support.

7 Organizations to Volunteer with After a Natural Disaster

If you are looking to make the largest impact possible consider becoming a disaster relief volunteer. The specific title may differ depending on where you live, but your county representatives or city manager should be able to direct you to the proper training program in your area. Emergency response volunteers are trained to assist in disaster preparedness and emergency relief after a natural disaster.

CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams)

The CERT program educates volunteers in disaster preparedness for hazards and natural disasters that may hit your area. The training includes fire safety, search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations such as triage. It is nationwide and details can be found at

The CERT program is a great way to get prepared and at the ready with the knowledge and skills needed before, during, and after a natural disaster strikes. The program allows citizens to take an active role in their community and free up the emergency professionals for more complex issues, rescues, and medical needs in the aftermath.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is a staple organization in the world of disaster relief. Apart from monetary donations, you can also find a local chapter to become CPR and First Aid certified. This can help you be prepared in the event of any emergency, not just a large-scale natural disaster. These skills are invaluable in the aftermath of a disaster when emergency systems may be overwhelmed.

Medical Reserve Corps

The Medical Reserve Corps offers training to prepare in the event of a natural disaster or public health crisis. If you have prior medical experience, MRC can help keep those skills sharp and get you involved and prepared for any future disasters. You can find more information specific to MRC here

Fire Corps

In a natural disaster crisis, the Fire Corps of community volunteers may help with distributing preparedness materials such as sandbags, etc. Regularly their volunteer efforts may include teaching about fire safety or installing smoke detectors, and executing home safety checks, things that help to avoid disasters.

Your local fire department or EMS department most likely has a volunteer program such as fire corp where you can help assist in non-emergencies. These volunteers are so important in freeing up the medical professionals and firefighters to take on the actual emergencies.

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD)

The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster is an association of many volunteer organizations. Members of VOAD respond to disasters throughout the United States and the world. You can register with VOAD and they work to mitigate and disperse aid and volunteers in the event of a large natural disaster.

International Disaster Relief Organizations

Natural disasters know no borders and can strike anywhere around the world. Often times natural disasters do much more damage in third-world countries due to a lack of infrastructure and disaster planning. The images can be horrifying and we rightfully want to help. Please take the time to vet wherever you chose to send financial donations. A good resource is the International Relief Teams. You can also check out a longer list of international relief organizations here

US Disaster Relief Organizations – FEMA

FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency and they are tasked with assisting in all sorts of disasters throughout the country, but they also assist other countries with planning, strategizing, and training for disasters. The US does have relief organizations such as Citizens Corp and The Lions Club International.

Emergency Financial Assistance

In the aftermath of a hurricane, tornado, tropical storm, or any other natural disaster the scope of the need is great. Many times a monetary donation can do the most good. Sometimes volunteers can’t be used because the danger is still too great, in these circumstances a donation is a great way to help get much-needed supplies to those who are hurting.

Unfortunately, there are scams and fraudulent organizations out there who will abuse the goodwill of those who want to donate, so make sure you choose carefully where to donate. Charity Watch and Charity Navigator are great resources to vet an organization before making any monetary donation.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most natural disasters have long-lasting effects, and after the cameras and news crews have moved on there is still a great need. For this reason, consider spreading out your donations and giving again later on when the dust has settled. If you are looking to donate cash a good resource is the organizations listed at VOAD, these organizations have been vetted and will make the best use of your donations.

Often times money is the best way to help in any disaster. Organizers close to the situation can distribute funds to exactly where they are needed and make the best use of it to help as many victims as possible, they know which resources need to be replenished, where help is needed and what will help the most. Relief funds for natural disaster assistance are a great way to get help directly to those who have been affected. There are needs we may not realize in the aftermath such as hotel stays for families, food, clothing, medical needs, community clean up efforts, and these relief programs can fill those needs.

Where can I Donate to Help after a Natural Disaster?

Again, you can utilize a broad organization such as VOAD to find a charity to donate to after a natural disaster, but there are several listed below to give you a start:

  • American Red Cross
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • All Hands and Hearts Smart Response
  • Hope Worldwide
  • Medical Reserve Corps
  • Brethren Disaster Ministries
  • Billy Graham Rapid Response Team
  • Convoy of Hope