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Disaster Relief, Recovery, and Prevention Programs

by Sherie Sanders on September 6, 2017
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Even before Hurricane Harvey, natural disasters have been on the increase in the the United States. Ninety-one storms, wild fires, earthquakes, heat waves, and other weather-related events caused 2016 to tie as the second worst year on record. Nineteen floods were the highest number documented since they started keeping track in 1980. 

As September is Natural Preparedness Month, we have compiled several resources for disaster-related grants, from an upcoming FEMA mitigation and prevention program to lesser-known opportunities for restoration and replenishment after they occur. While most people are already aware of federal aid and major relief organizations like the Red Cross, the need for funding to help life get back to normal in ways big and small goes on long after the initial crisis is over. (Image Courtesy of FEMA

FEMA's Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program

The federal government has developed a National Preparedness Goal to proactively address disasters. Its five missions are prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery. The Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program is one of three Hazard Mitigation Assistance programs run by FEMA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that supports it. The PDM program is designed to help prevent natural hazards and the damage they cause. It also seeks to reduce dependence on federal funding in future occurrences. Examples of activities include but are not limited to:

  • Property acquisition and structure relocation/demolition
  • Dry flood proofing of structures
  • Flood risk reduction
  • Retrofitting of existing buildings
  • Safe room construction
  • Soil stabilization
  • Wildfire mitigation

Funds are distributed to tribal governments, states, or territories. Tribal organizations and local governments are sub-applicants who must submit applications to their state agencies. The application cycle for primary grantees 2017 is from August 14 - November 14. Refer to Hazard Mitigation Assistance Guidance for more information.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Emergency Relief Grants

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is a publicly funded nonprofit established by Congress to ensure that low-income Americans have access to legal assistance. They disperse funding to nonprofit legal aid programs throughout the country. LSC provides Disaster Relief Emergency Grants to current awardees in locations that have been declared by FEMA as natural disasters or have experienced other emergencies. Grants will go to mitigating damages caused by the disaster and filling the need for legal services caused by the emergency, such as dealing with insurance claims. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. While grants are limited to organizations that are already LSC awardees, when a location has been declared a disaster area, it is helpful to know where to refer people who might not otherwise be able to afford legal assistance. Here is a list by state of the law clinics that LSC provides support to. It should also be noted that the current budget proposal has called for LSC to be defunded.


Beyond Federal Resources

Here are some suggestions where to look for assistance beyond federal resources:

  • State government agencies - as with the PDM program, various states agencies receive federal funds to pass on to the municipalities within them. Here is FEMA's list of state emergency management agencies.
  • Regional resources -Walgreens is one example of a corporation that prioritizes the areas where it stores and headquarters are located. Helping local nonprofits with disaster relief efforts is one of its community service priorities. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
  • Foundations that have multiple funding priorities - Although not specifically dedicated to disaster relief, some foundations include it as one allowable use. The Lawrence Foundation supports environmental and human service causes, including disaster relief. Grants are awarded twice a year, with applications due by April 30 and November 1.
  • Professional associations - The American Dental Association Foundation helps dental-related nonprofits provide emergency dental care to disaster-affected communities. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
  • Animal welfare organizations - Banfield Disaster Relief Grants provide funds for veterinary care/supplies, food, temporary shelter, transportation for relocation and other immediate needs. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. PetSmart Charities Emergency Relief Grants helps animal organizations that will be assisting more than 20 companion animals during a natural or man-made disaster. Applications are also accepted on a rolling basis. Other sources may include national and local branches of major animal welfare organizations.


USA Football provides equipment donations to nonprofit youth and high school football organizations that have been affected by natural disasters and other emergencies. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

The Pilcrow Foundation: Rural Public Library Grants provides hardcover children's books from their list to rural libraries that have recently been affected by natural disasters to rebuild their children's section.

Fox Theatre Emergency Needs supports historic theaters and related structures that have been affected by natural disasters, or when demolitions are imminent due to other factors. Grants from the institute may be used to leverage other support.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy

 The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is an organization that helps donors maximize the impact of their gifts. Their focus is both on prevention and long-term recovery efforts. Here are two informational resources they make available to local governments and nonprofits affected by unforeseen events :

  • The Disaster Philanthropy Playbook - Incorporates best practices for both philanthropists and grantees in recovery efforts. Also includes a section for shared stories so that communities can learn from each other.
  • The Resilient Organization - A guide to pre- and post-IT disaster planning and recovery.

Don't Forget Preparation

For National Preparedness Month, the Department of Homeland Security has made a free toolkit available to take steps now to be ready when a disaster strikes. Do members of your community know what their insurance covers? How to turn off their utilities? The five key action steps to save a life before help arrives? This comprehensive kit will help local governments and interested organizations encourage people to find the answers to these questions and be prepared with videos, social media messages, informational publications, and more. You can then share what you are doing at #NatlPrep and #PlanAhead.

Hurricane Harvey Recovery

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has set up a relief fund to help with long-term recovery efforts, including rebuilding homes, businesses, infrastructure and agriculture, supporting mental health needs, and remembering the most vulnerable among us. Those who wish to may donate via the

Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund


Image courtesy of FEMA. eCivis is not affiliated with FEMA, the use of the National Preparedness Month logo for educational purposes does not constitute an endorsement by FEMA.









Topics: Funding News

5 min read time