After a hurricane, don't count on the federal government for assistance

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Many people are under the impression that the federal government will help them out if their home floods -- but it's not as much help as you might expect.

According to Leslie Chapman-Henderson with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), federal government assistance after a storm comes in the form of a loan, not a grant or a gift.

"It's very small compared to the damage -- that's the other surprise. You can't afford to be without that insurance," Chapman-Henderson advised.

FLASH recently launched #HurricaneStrong, a hurricane resilience initiative that encourages severe weather preparedness.

"We have a whole generation of people that haven't experienced a megahurricane, so they don't really know what to do," she explained. "We came up with a path, five simple messages, starting with personal safety."
When a hurricane is approaching, not everybody needs to evacuate -- as we learned during the evacuation gridlock before Hurricane Rita in 2005. Only people who live along the coast need to evacuate.

"Next is family preparedness. What can I do? Build a disaster supply kit. Kids can get involved with that. Make it a family affair," Chapman-Henderson recommended.

In addition to several days of non-perishable food and water, you'll need a manual can opener, extra gas or charcoal for your grill, flashlights, batteries, pet care supplies and a first aid kit.

Financial security is the third touchpoint. Before a storm hits, FLASH recommends calling your insurance company and make sure you understand the limits of your coverage -- namely flood insurance, which is not included in standard homeowner's insurance.

And if you recently signed up for flood insurance, know that flood insurance won't cover your home and belongings until a 30-day waiting period passes.

Fourth, be sure to safeguard your home against storm threats.

Once your family and belongings are prepared, FLASH recommends checking with others in the community who may need a little extra assistance and spread the love.

"Help your neighbor. Find that elderly person...and lend a hand. You're ready, extend it," said Chapman-Henderson.

If you need a little extra help getting hurricane-ready, head over to the #HurricaneStrong website or the weather section on
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