Extending support in the wake of natural disasters

With tornadoes and floods dominating the news, it’s easy to feel helpless in the wake of such personal tragedy. In this technology-driven world, we’re witnessing breaking news, reading, seeing and hearing first-hand how these disasters personally impact individuals and communities. Who can forget the faces of those interviewed after losing their loved ones, homes, schools and places of employment?


We’ve seen acts of courage, heroism and extensions of human kindness, but with such disaster, it’s hard to know what to say and do. Here are some thoughts on how to lend support following a natural disaster:

  1. Acknowledge the loss and share your sadness. People feel comforted knowing you care.

  2. Offer safe shelter. As reported on national news, a woman whose home was intact shared that she was taking in a neighbor who she hardly knew. If you’re too far away, ask friends or loved ones if you can research local and state agencies to identify services for survivors.

  3. Provide needed and comfortable clothing and sundry items; many of the survivors had to leave their homes quickly or experienced damage or total loss of their personal belongings.

  4. Communicate your availability. Depending on the state of their community, they may be without transportation or, they may have lost vital documents or have other essential needs. Fill the gap by providing transportation or a vehicle or research how to replace lost documents.

  5. Listen; allow them to cry or talk and if they ask you for specific help, do your best to fulfill their wishes.

  6. Make a donation. Choose well-known national disaster relief organizations or use those recommended and listed on the websites of national news organizations or your local newspaper.


Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle StoreClick here to order.


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