Disaster Recovery Protocols

It seems more and more natural disasters are hitting close to home with increasing intensity. You might see images of shelters, mobile showers, or cots lined up for refugees as people seek safety from things like hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, or fires. All of these humanitarian efforts are provided by the national response to natural disasters and organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross. These people have detailed plans for how to react to disasters and help those affected.


The federal government arrives to help if a state, territory, or tribe (in the case of Native Americans) requests it. Once FEMA arrives, a coordinator is appointed to run point on the efforts, and a central office is established in the area. All recovery plans are implemented under the National Disaster Recovery Framework, whether it’s a long-term task such as rebuilding a community after a devastating storm, or a short-term task like helping clear debris from a small tornado.


The recovery efforts are all focused on the people and communities affected by a natural disaster. There are six Recovery Support Functions that guide FEMA’s efforts during their time in a city:

  • planning and building
  • housing
  • economy
  • infrastructure
  • health
  • cultural resources

Each of these goals has its own team assigned to making sure it’s carried out efficiently and effectively. This swells your relief personnel and ensures everyone is focused on an important task. To keep things running smoothly, there are six “operational stages” that every employee or volunteer must be aware of and understand fully. By keeping everyone on the same page, FEMA and other organizations can prevent delays in aid and make sure things are put back together the right way.

There’s a lot more to disaster relief than just water bottles and cots, and the federal government has a set plan to make sure people are helped as quickly as possible.