Disaster Preparedness Center - Southern Medical Association

Disaster Preparedness Center

Disaster can strike your life anywhere, anytime, & in many different ways, shapes, & sizes. 


In the event of a disaster, this page will be updated with additional information as it pertains to the area(s) affected.

 Are you prepared?

Be prepared and download the FEMA app for free on the App Store and Google Play. Learn what to do before, during, and after emergencies with safety tips & receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for anywhere in the United States.

"Weather the Storm: Download the FEMA App"

Keep Up With The Latest News


Disaster Assistance

FEMA Individual Disaster Assistance

  • I need immediate assistance
    Medical, shelter, immediate needs
  • I need help from FEMA
    Home/primary residence
  • I applied for assistance, what's next?
    Small business administration application, home inspection, after the inspection
  • What does Individual Assistance Cover?
  • What if I have insurance?
  • What happens during the home inspection?
  • What happens after the home inspection?
  • How do I appeal the final decision?

Fact Sheet: What to Expect when You Register for FEMA Disaster Assistance

Fact Sheet: Questions about Your Determination Letter

Disaster Assistance.gov

Find assistance, Apply Online, Get Status

  • Look up your address to find out if it’s in a disaster area
    declared for Individual Assistance.
  • Find assistance you may qualify for by answering questions about your needs, or search by federal agency or category.
  • Apply online using desktop, mobile, or tablet devices.
  • Check the status of your application and get updates by SMS
    or email.
  • Upload documents to support your application.
  • View declared disasters by state.
  • Locate resources in and around your community.
  • Find information for immediate needs like evacuation,
    shelter, food, water, and medical.
  • Stay informed with current FEMA news feeds and Twitter

Application Checklist

Information About Donating

Guidelines for Giving from CIDI.org

USAID CIDI provides information and guidance on the best way to help support relief efforts following disasters around the world.

Give.org - BBB Wise Giving Alliance

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance helps donors make informed giving decisions and promotes high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public. It produces reports about national charities, evaluating them against comprehensive Standards for Charity Accountability.

BBB WGA does not rank charities but rather seeks to assist donors in making informed judgments about those that solicit their support. Evaluations are done without charge to the charity and are posted for free public access on give.org.


Founded 25 years ago as the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP), Charity Watch is America's most independent, assertive charity watchdog. CharityWatch does not merely repeat what a charity reports using simplistic or automated formulas but dives deep to let you know how efficiently a charity will use your donation to fund the programs you want to support.

Charity Navigator

Founded in 2001, Charity Navigator has become the nation's largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. Their team of professional analysts has examined tens of thousands of non-profit financial documents to develop an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess over 8,000 of America's best-known and some lesser known, but worthy, charities.

Give Well.org

High impact giving opportunities that are supported by in-depth charity research.
GiveWell is a nonprofit dedicated to finding outstanding giving opportunities through in-depth analysis. Thousands of hours of research have gone into finding our top-rated charities. They’re evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted, and underfunded.

Giving Tips

Basic Giving Tips from Give.org

  • Get the charity’s exact name.  Mistaken identity is a common problem with thousands of charities having very similar names.
  • Don't be pressured into a donation
  • Be wary of heart-wrenching appeals. Focus on what the charity is doing to help.
  • Get the specifics. Find out where and how a charity intends to help.
  • Check websites for for information on the charity. Their mission, activities and finances should be readily available.
  • Check with state charity officials. In many states, charities are required to register, usually with the office of the attorney general, before soliciting. Click http://www.nasconet.org/documents/u-s-charity-offices/ for the relevant office in your state.
  • Don’t assume that every soliciting organization is tax exempt as a charity. You can check an organization’s tax status at www.irs.gov/app/eos.

Tips For Giving In Times Of Crisis from Charity Navigator

  • Give To An Established Charity
    Don't let an unscrupulous charity take advantage of your goodwill. Find a charity with a proven track record of success with dealing with the type of disaster and in the region in which the disaster occurred. Avoid fly-by-night charities created specifically to deal with the new crisis. Even well-meaning new organizations will not have the infrastructure and knowledge of the region to efficiently maximize your gift. If you do feel compelled to give to a new charity, be sure to get proof that the group is in fact a registered public charity with 501 (c) (3) status.
  • Designate Your Investment
    Worried that your donation will go towards the charity's general operating fund or saved for a future crisis? Many charities do encourage donors not to designate their gifts so that the charity can decide how best to utilize the money, but depending on your confidence in the charity's ability to make that determination, you may choose to tell the charity exactly how to use your investment. By designating your gift, you'll ensure that your donation will be used as you intended. Most charities with online giving portals offer a check box feature so that you can tell the organization how to spend your contribution. If you are mailing in a check, then write a note in the memo section of the check specifying that you want your gift spent entirely on the current crisis.
  • Avoid Telemarketers
    Be wary of fundraisers who pressure you to make a contribution over the phone. Never divulge your credit card information to someone soliciting you via the phone. Instead, ask the fundraiser to send you written information about the charity they represent and do some research on your own. Once you feel comfortable with the charity, send the organization a check directly in the mail, or give through their website, thus ensuring 100% of your gift goes to the charity and not the for-profit fundraiser.
  • Do Not Send Supplies
    Knowing that people are desperately in need of basic supplies like food, water and shelter, it is hard not to want to pack up and send a box of supplies. But this type of philanthropy is simply not practical or efficient. Even if mail could get to an impacted region, no one is set up to receive these goods, much less organize and distribute them to the victims. Furthermore, charities are often able to partner with companies to acquire large amounts of in-kind donations such as bottled water and new clothing. Instead of boxing up and sending your old clothing, have a garage sale and turn your used goods into cash and donate that to a worthy charity.
  • Be Careful Of Email Solicitations
    Be Leery Of People That Contact You Online Claiming To Be A Victim – Unless you personally know someone in the impacted area, anyone alleging to be in this position is most likely part of a scam. Obviously, people affected by a large scale disaster like a earthquake, hurricane or tsunami are in no position to contact you directly for assistance.
  • Seek Out The Charity’s Authorized Website
    Criminals are likely to set up bogus sites to steal the identity and money of generous and unsuspecting individuals. We saw this after Hurricane Katrina when the FBI reported that 4,000 sites were created to do just that. So, if you plan to give online, be sure to find the charity’s legitimate site.
  • Think Before You Text
    So long as you do your homework – meaning that you’ve vetted the charity and made sure that you are using the proper texting instructions- then texting can be a great way to give. Remember there may be additional costs to you to make such a gift. And it can take as much as 90 days for the charity to receive the funds.
  • Consider The Nature Of The Charity’s Work
    Not every charity responds to a disaster in the same way. Some provide medical assistance, some shelter, some food and water. Others will be more focused on either short term or long term rebuilding efforts. And some will just fundraise for other nonprofits. Think about what it is you want your philanthropic investment to accomplish and then take the time to find the charities doing that work.
  • Be Inspired By Social Media, But Still Do Your Homework
    Social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs can deliver heart-wrenching images and information about a disaster to our computers and phones. These often include pleas to donate. While these applications can be a powerful tool to inspire your desire to help, you should not blindly give via these vehicles. You must take the time to investigate the groups behind such pleas for help to ensure that it comes from a legitimate nonprofit.
  • Do Not Expect Immediate Results, But Do Keep Tabs On What Your Donation Accomplishes
    It takes time for charities to mobilize, to assess the problems that need to be addressed and to develop effective solutions. Donors need to be patient so charities will not feel pressured to plunge in and offer ineffective aid, simply to placate impatient donors. That doesn't mean donors shouldn't hold the charities accountable for delivering on their promises! Be sure to follow up with the charity in a few months to find out (a) how your donation was put to use and (b) if the organization needs additional support to complete the recovery effort.

You frequently hear that cash donations are the best, why is that?

Cash contributions are typically the most effective way for people to channel their good will and help those affected by disasters. Disaster situations evolve quickly and cash contributions enable relief agencies to purchase exactly what is needed, when it’s needed, and to respond to new requirements as they arise.

  • no transportation and storage costs
  • do not divert relief workers’ time to receive, sort, store and distributed unneeded materials.
  • allow relief supplies to be purchased in markets close to the disaster site, which stimulates local economies by providing employment and generating cash flow

I would like to donate supplies to help survivors, what is the best way to do that?

One of the most widespread and counterproductive misconceptions regarding disaster relief is that household items — principally used clothing, canned food and bottled water — are urgently needed after every disaster.

These commodities and more can often be purchased locally which supports merchants and economies that have also been hard-hit by a disaster.

Every disaster is unique and every response is tailored according to specific needs that can only be assessed by relief professionals on-site. Unsolicited material donations can clog supply chains, take space required to stage life-saving relief supplies for distribution, and divert relief workers’ time. Be mindful of storage and transportation costs .

Material donations should only be considered in response to an official needs request made by a relief agency on the ground.

  • Determine whether or not the items you wish to donate are useful.
  • Consider selling your items and donating the proceeds to charity.
  • Start locally to find the right charity.

How can I know that my donation is going to get to those in need?

A number of resources are available to learn about how your donation will be used.

The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance
The Bureau, along with the National Charities Information Bureau, the Council of Better Business Bureau’s foundation and its Philanthropic Advisory Service have joined to form the Wise Giving Alliance, where you can find valuable information when making informed decisions about supporting charities.

Charity Navigator
Founded in 2001, Charity Navigator has become the nation's largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. Their team of professional analysts has examined tens of thousands of non-profit financial documents to develop an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess over 8,000 of America's best-known and some lesser known, but worthy, charities.

Guide Star

GuideStar is the world's largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.

Charity Watch
CharityWatch, founded 25 years ago as the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP), is America's most independent, assertive charity watchdog. CharityWatch does not merely repeat what a charity reports using simplistic or automated formulas. They dive deep to let you know how efficiently a charity will use your donation to fund the programs you want to support. CharityWatch exposes nonprofit abuses and advocates for your interests as a donor.

Look out for new "relief agencies."

After major disasters many new, unofficial “relief agencies” begin collecting cash donations which they claim are destined for those affected by a disaster. Some are not registered with the U.S. Government as legitimate charities, though they may place advertisements in newspapers and on websites. Because they are not registered, there is little follow-up to ensure that funds collected by these groups ever contribute to relief work in affected areas. If you have doubts about a particular organization, you may request copies of its audited annual reports as proof that it is registered as a legitimate charity with the Internal Revenue Service, and to see its track record in international disaster relief efforts.

How much overhead is reasonable for charities to charge?

Some relief agencies operate with very low overhead rates because of the nature of their work. A logistics organization, for example, may incur lower overhead costs because they may need fewer people “on the ground.” By contrast, an organization that sends personnel to the disaster site may require more overhead costs as their work may entail the transportation and distribution of commodities and managing longer-term relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction programs.

Can I receive a tax deduction for my donation?

Information on tax exemptions and deductions is available at www.bbb.org/us/charity .

Give.org - Deducting Contributions

Only itemizers can deduct contributions. Contributions are deductible for the year in which they are actually paid or delivered.

Charity Navigator - Tax Benefits of Giving

  • A gift to a qualified charitable organization may entitle you to a charitable contribution deduction against your income tax if you itemize deductions.
  • A contribution is deductible in the year in which it is paid. Putting the check in the mail to the charity constitutes payment. A contribution made on a credit card is deductible in the year it is charged to your credit card, even if payment to the credit card company is made in a later year.
  • Most, but not all, charitable organizations qualify for a charitable contribution deduction. You can deduct contributions only if they are made to or for the use of a qualified recipient.
  • There are limits to how much you can deduct, but they're very high.  Only if you contribute more than 20% of your adjusted gross income to charity is it necessary to be concerned about donation limits. If the contribution is made to a public charity, the deduction is limited to 50% of your contribution base. For example, if you have an adjusted gross income of $100,000, your deduction limit for that year is $50,000.
  • Rules exist for non-cash donations. If you contribute property owned for more than one year, the value of the deduction is normally equal to the property's fair market value. You have an advantage when you contribute appreciated property because you get a deduction for the full fair-market value of the property. You are not taxed on any of the appreciation, so, in effect, you receive a deduction for an amount that you never reported as income.
  • You should clearly contribute, rather than throw out, old clothes, furniture, and equipment that you no longer use. However, bear in mind the condition of your donated goods. The IRS only permits deductions for donations of clothing and household items that are in "good condition or better."
  • If you bring $1,000 in clothes or furniture to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, make sure that you get a receipt. Never throw such contributions into a bin where no receipt is available. If you are in the 25% bracket, that receipt may be worth $250 in tax savings to you. And remember that the IRS requires a qualified appraisal to be submitted with your tax return if you donate any single clothing or household item that is not in good used condition or better, and for which you deducted more than $500.
  • You need to maintain proper documentation of your contributions. If you want to claim a charitable deduction for a cash gift, then you must be prepared to verify your claim. If you are audited, the IRS will only accept one of the following to substantiate a monetary gift: a canceled check, credit card statement, bank statement or a written acknowledgment from the charity.
  • If you contribute $250 or more, then you must prove to the IRS that you (a) made the donation and (b) you didn't receive anything in return for that donation. Therefore you'll need a receipt from the charity that includes the following information: the charity's name, the value of your gift, the date you made your donation and a statement verifying that you did not receive any goods or services in return for your gift.
  • Be especially careful when valuing a donated vehicle. The IRS continues to take a close look at such deductions. If you donated a car worth more than $500, then you can only deduct the amount the charity received from the sale of your car. You can use the receipt from the charity to substantiate your claim. Do not attempt to use the fair market value unless one of the following conditions apply: (1) instead of selling the vehicle, the charity keeps and uses it, (2) the charity makes improvements to the car before selling it, (3) your car is sold at a discounted price to a person with a low income, (4) or if the car is worth less than $500.
  • The IRA charitable rollover offers tax benefits for those that qualify. The IRA Charitable Rollover allows individuals who are 70 1/2 years old to donate up to $100,000 to charitable organizations directly from their IRA, without that donation being counted as taxable income when it is withdrawn. To qualify, contributions must come from a traditional IRA or Roth IRA, and they must be made directly to a qualified charitable organization. Additionally, the donor may not receive goods or services in exchange for the donation, and they must retain a receipt from each charity to which a donation is made.

I have some prescription and non-prescription medications that I would like to donate - what is the best way to do that?

Distribution of narcotics and other medications to persons other than those they were specifically prescribed for is illegal in the United States. The coordination and collection of medicines and medical supplies are best left to trained professionals who have expertise in responding to health-related emergencies overseas.

The acquisition of appropriate clearances, shelf-life requirements, reliable distribution mechanisms and other factors for transport and use of medications require special knowledge and expertise.

For additional information regarding drug donations, please visit the Partnership for Quality Medical Donations at www.pqmd.org .

PQMD members donate and deliver hundreds of millions of dollars of medical products and services to help provide short-term emergency assistance to populations affected by the many disasters, man-made and natural, in the US and around the world.


After a disaster, many people want to volunteer their services or donate money or goods. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides information and tips on volunteering and donating responsibly after a natural disaster.

Do not just "show up" to volunteer assistance. This actually makes things harder for responders. The following groups and organizations provide information on helping survivors of natural disasters:

Gas Buddy
Search for the closest station that has both fuel and power.

No small business owner wants to think about a disaster coming along and wiping out everything they've worked so hard for. But the tragic truth is this: Up to 60% of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Have you thought about what would happen if a flood, hurricane, or cyberattack hit your business? Do you have the proper mechanisms in place to recover from such a disaster? If disaster recovery was not part of your business plan, now is the time to develop your strategies.

What should be included in a disaster recovery plan?

  • Key personnel contact information

  • Insurance information

  • Vendor contacts (computer hardware, plumbing, HVAC, etc.)

  • Key customer contacts

  • Bank and financial information

  • Offsite data storage facility

  • More?


Don’t wait for a disaster or an emergency to happen – always be prepared!  We have assembled worksheets, checklists, and other valuable “need to know” information so that IF disaster strikes (and we hope it never does), you will be ready.

Emergency Supplies Checklists

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Supplies Checklists and Useful Information – A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items that could be needed in the event of a disaster. The CDC has developed a checklist of items to have on-hand in the event of an emergency or disaster.   Visit this site and put together your supply kit and follow the other suggestions listed here.

American Red Cross - Make A Plan
FEMA – Emergency Supply Checklist
Ready.gov - Make A Plan Checklist
Ready.gov - Build A Kit

 How to Save on Emergency Supplies – Disaster Prep on a Budget

Get Prepared. Be a Survivor.

A great guide from FloridaDisaster.org, with information applicable countrywide.

A disaster can strike at any time - sometimes without warning. It is important for everyone, especially citizens with disabilities and other special needs, to plan ahead for an emergency situation and know what to do in the event of an emergency.

This website offers resources and information specifically tailored for people with disabilities/special needs and their families to help prepare for emergencies, protect themselves and be survivors. with  additional information on preparedness planning, evacuation and shelters.

Need to Know

A compilation of valuable information…that you need to know.

FEMA – Prepare for Emergencies Now:  Information to Get Ready

FEMA – Prepare for Emergencies Now:  Information for People with Disabilities

FEMA – Prepare for Emergencies Now:  Information for Older Americans

NIMH - Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters

The Advanced Disaster Life Support™ (ADLS®) course

A series of education programs to better prepare health care professionals and emergency response personnel for mass casualty events. [Learn more.]


Every single day, the American Red Cross helps people in emergencies. Whether it's one displaced family, thousands of disaster victims, or providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran or support to a military family member, our vital work is made possible by people like you. It is through the time and care of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things. [Find out about how you can help.]

Information on Organ Donation:

THE LIVING BANK:  800.528.2971

Replace Lost or Missing Documents:

– To obtain or replace Medicare card or a change of address
– Claim Inquiries
– Information about Medicaid programs and Medigap insurance
– General questions and coverage information

– To obtain or replace Social Security card
– Personal statement of earnings – estimate of future earnings
– Proof of current payment

PASSPORT SERVICES:  877.487.2778
– To obtain or renew passport

– To request a birth certificate you must contact the state Vital Statistics or Vital Records offices of
the state where the birth occurred. Please include the following information:
– Name as it would appear on the birth certificate
– Place of birth (city, county, state)
– Hospital
– Date of Birth
– Gender
– Race

Fees vary from state to state. Vital Statistics or Vital Records offices also maintain records of death,
marriage, and divorce. You may also check the website: www.cdc.gov  for further information.

– Federal tax questions
– Form request line
– Business tax questions

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