Reactions during Disasters, both natural and man made, can save lives, but preparing for them can save more.  This section is designed to help you understand how best to prepare for, live through, and adjust to life after the disaster has passed.  Please use the information here, Disaster planning and preparation.

Tips on Being Prepared Before the Disaster

72-Hour Emergency Kits

Three-Day Emergency Kits

This is a sample press release for a hurricane, which includes good information on preparing a three-day emergency kit.  The American Red Cross has a much more complete list available.

DATELINE – There is still time for you to assemble your three-day emergency kits in case you are cut off from outside help.  Most people already have these items around the house, and it is a matter of assembling them now before an evacuation order is issued.

Start with an easy-to-carry, water-tight container – a large plastic trash can will do, or line a sturdy cardboard box with a couple of trash bags.  Next, gather up the following items and place them in your kit:


  • Water – 1 Gallon per person per day (a week’s supply of water is preferable)
  • Water purification kit or bleach
  • First Aid Kit and first aid book
  • Pre-cooked, non-perishable foods, such as canned meats, granola bars, instant soup and cereals, etc.
  • Baby supplies: formula, bottle, pacifier, soap, baby powder, clothing, blankets, baby wipes, disposable diapers, canned food and juices
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Anti-bacterial hand wipes or gel
  • Blanket or sleeping bag per person
  • Portable radio or portable TV; extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Essential medications
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses
  • Extra house and car keys
  • Fire extinguisher – ABC type
  • Food, water, leash, and carrier for pets
  • Cash and change
  • Seasonal change of clothing, including sturdy shoes
  • Duct Tape and plastic sheeting (to seal home in case of chemical or biological attack)

Sanitation Supplies

  • Large plastic bag for waste, tarps, and rain ponchos
  • Large trash cans
  • Bar soap and liquid detergent
  • Shampoo
  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Feminine hygiene supplies
  • Toilet paper
  • Household bleach
  • Rubber gloves

Stocking up now on emergency supplies can add to your family’s safety and comfort during and after a disaster.  Store enough supplies for at least three days, preferably seven days, in one place.

Safe Areas and Shelters

Identifying Safe Areas

At Home – Seek shelter on the lowest possible floor or in the basement.  Under the stairs or in a bathroom or closet are good shelter spots.  Stay away from windows.  Don’t bother with the windows!   Crouch on the floor in an egg position.

At Work – Seek shelter on the lowest possible floor or basement, if there is a basement.  Stairwells, bathrooms, and closets are good spots.  As a last resort, crawl under your desk.

At the Mall – Seek shelter against an interior wall.  An enclosed hallway or fire exit leading away from the main hall concourse is a good spot.  Stay away from skylights and large open areas.

At School – Seek shelter in interior hallways, small closets, and bathrooms.  Stay away from windows.  Get out of mobile classrooms.  Stay out of gymnasiums, auditoriums, and other large rooms with a large expanse of roof.  Bus drivers should be alert for bad weather on their routes.

Shelters at Home

Knowing where to go in your home when a tornado or other strong storm threatens can be the difference between your surviving or becoming a statistic.  The safest place to be during a tornado is in a below-ground shelter.

If you don’t have a below-ground shelter, go to an inside room on the lowest level of the home, away from windows and exterior walls. (The example below was provided by Texas Tech University and FEMA, and is available on the FEMA web site. Shaded areas are best available tornado shelters.)


Loss Prevention

Loss Prevention Tips

The following steps should be taken by every homeowner before a disaster to assure a speedy, hassle-free recovery after a loss:

Home Coverage and Preparedness Tips

  • Check with your insurance agent to assure adequate coverage is provided by your homeowners’ insurance policy. Remember to notify agents of any improvements or additions to the home.
  • If your homeowners’ insurance policy does not have wind/hail coverage, you will need to purchase separate coverage, which has a 15-day waiting period. Consult your insurance agent.
  • Check with your insurance agent to determine if you need flood insurance. Flood insurance is not part of most homeowners’, mobile home or rental insurance policies. You will need to purchase separate coverage, which has a 30-day waiting period.
  • Investigate purchasing replacement-cost coverage for your home and its contents. This option provides for the rebuilding or replacement of damaged property and belongings at current costs, rather than depreciated values.
  • Check your policy for “loss of use” coverage. If you are required to seek temporary shelter due to a covered loss, such as a tornado, many policies will cover these expenses up to a certain amount. If your home is uninhabitable because of physical damage, most homeowners’ policies will pay additional living expenses while your property is being repaired. Lack of power and water is not considered physical damage and, therefore, additional living expenses will not be covered.
  • Consider constructing an underground or in-home shelter. (See Shelter Information Sheet.)

A Home Inventory Will Assist In Settling Claims

  • It is important that you videotape, photograph or compile a written inventory of your home and belongings.
  • Keep the inventory off-premises in a safety deposit box or with an out-of-the area contact. The inventory will provide a record for you and the insurance company should a loss occur.
  • Go through each room of your home and list every item, including the purchase date, price, model and serial numbers, if applicable. Don’t forget closets, the garage and the basement.
  • Include the appraised value of antiques, jewelry and other costly possessions. Attach professional, written appraisals when necessary.
  • Slowly pan the camera around the room in order to capture each item on film.
  • Obtain close-ups of expensive items, such as jewelry, fine art, antiques, stamp collections, etc.
  • Consider grouping items for easier inventory.
  • Narrate the video by noting purchase cost and date, model and serial numbers on appliances and other appropriate items. 
  • Update your inventory every two-to-three years.

Automobile Coverage and Preparedness Tips

  • If damaged by windstorms or hail, most vehicles are protected under the “other than collision” (comprehensive) portion of an automobile insurance policy. Check with your insurance agent to be certain of your automobile coverage.
  • If severe weather threatens, move vehicles to covered area to prevent damage from high winds, flying debris and hail.

After the Loss Insurance Tips

  • Contact your insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible and ask for instructions on what to do until your adjuster arrives.
  • Begin preparing an inventory of personal property damaged or destroyed, and take pictures of the damaged property.
  • Protect your property from further damage. Your reasonable expenses to protect your property are part of the loss and are generally reimbursed by insurance companies. Keep all receipts.
  • Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on cost of repairs.
  • Use reliable, licensed contractors for repairs.  Do not pay in cash.

Flood Insurance

Flood Insurance, Disaster Assistance and You

“Will disaster assistance be available if my home or business is flooded?”

“How expensive is flood insurance?”

If you have questions about whether or not you need flood insurance, consider the following:

  • Most forms of federal disaster assistance, including FEMA’s Temporary Housing and Individual and Family Grant Programs, are only offered if the President declares a major disaster.
  • 90 percent of all disasters are not presidentially declared.
  • The most typical form of federal disaster assistance is a Small Business Administration loan that must be paid back with interest. The average duration and loan payment for a disaster home loan is 18.5 years and $140 a month.
  • To qualify for home repair assistance, your home must have relatively minor damages that can be repaired quickly. No rental assistance is available unless your home has been destroyed or significantly damaged.
  • The average Individual and Family Grant is less than $2,500.
  • Floods are the most common natural disaster with 80 percent of all presidentially declared disasters involving floods.
  • Buildings in flood hazard areas have a 26 percent chance of being flooded during a 30-year mortgage.
  • The average premium for a National Flood Insurance Program policy in North Carolina is $318.00.
  • Homeowners, business owners, and renters can all purchase flood insurance as long as their community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. Even if a disaster is not declared by the President, flood insurance claims are paid.
  • When you carry a flood insurance policy and file a flood insurance claim, usually you get a partial payment immediately.
  • Flood insurance reimburses you for all covered losses. Disaster aid is limited to replacing essential items only. Homeowners can get up to $250,000 of coverage and businesses up to $500,000. Separate contents coverage also is available.
  1. Maintaining a flood insurance policy is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and reduce the cost of flood disasters.


Flood Insurance Facts

  • Flooding is not covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy.
  • Flood insurance is available in most North Carolina communities. More than 300 communities participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • Any walled and roofed building in an NFIP-participating community is eligible, whether or not the building is located in a floodplain. Manufactured homes installed on a permanent site and anchored also can be insured.
  • Any licensed property casualty insurance agent or broker can sell the Standard Flood Insurance Policy.
  • There is a 30-day waiting period after a policy is purchased before coverage goes into effect. However, if a policy is required by a lender as a condition for obtaining a mortgage, then the coverage takes effect at closing.
  • Two types of coverage are available:

1. Structural coverage on walls, floors, insulation, furnace, and items permanently attached to the structure;

2. Contents coverage for such items as furniture, appliance and other household goods.  This coverage must be purchased separately from structural coverage.

Sample Warnings

Sample Storm Warning

DATELINE – A (tropical storm / hurricane) near (location) may threaten North Carolina (time).  Hurricanes are dangerous regardless of their size and can cause devastation through massive flooding and wind damage, even if they do not pass over land.  North Carolinians should be prepared in case the storm threatens the coast.

North Carolina residents should listen to the local news for the latest advisories from the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center (NHC), as well as state and local emergency management officials.   Now is the time for residents to prepare their homes and gather supplies.

The North Carolina Emergency Management Division urges residents to do the following:

Determine if you are in a storm-surge zone:  During a Hurricane Watch, residents living in storm-surge zones may be ordered to evacuate.  Evacuation zones will be identified by local emergency managers through the news media.  You also should know if your home is located in a flood plain.  These areas suffer excessively from heavy rains associated with hurricanes.  Since flooding causes most hurricane-related deaths, flood plains are generally among the first areas requiring evacuation.  If you do not know the safe escape routes in your area, call the local emergency management office.

Prepare to evacuate if ordered to do so:  Residents living in storm-surge zones, and those living in mobile homes that are directly in the storm’s path, must plan for their evacuation now.  If evacuations are called for, public shelters will be set up for evacuees.  However, it might be more comfortable for those who evacuate to stay at a hotel or friend’s home that is out of the storm’s path.  These arrangements must be made now since hotels fill up quickly and out-of-county evacuations take time.

Register for Special Care:   Residents needing transportation or medical care during an evacuation should contact their local emergency management office, if they have not already done so.   Special needs shelters require advance registration.  County Emergency Management officials are listed in your phone book under county government.

Consider the Safety of Pets:   Except for service animals, health regulations do not allow pets in public shelters.  Residents should plan to board pets with their veterinarian, a kennel, or an identified pet shelter.  Residents should attach identification and rabies tags to their pets’ collars.

Prepare an Emergency Kit:   To prepare for a hurricane or any disaster, it is best to have a three-day emergency kit available, since it may take that long for rescue workers to reach your area.  For more information on preparing an emergency kit, click here.

Fuel Cars, Obtain cash, and Secure Important Documents:  Residents should fill their cars with gasoline and have enough cash on hand to last a week in case they are ordered to evacuate.  During power-outages, gas stations and ATM machines do not work.  It is also important to secure original copies of documents in a waterproof container in case of flooding.

Obtain Supplies to protect the home:   If residents are ordered to evacuate, there will be little time to protect their homes from the storm.  Supplies, such as lumber and shutters, should be purchased now, and window casing pre-drilled.  All outdoor objects, including trash cans and patio furniture, should be brought indoors or tied down.  Homeowners should clear their property of all debris that could damage buildings in strong winds.  Finally, cars should be stored in the garage.

Residents who do not live in designated storm-surge zones should prepare
shelter inside their homes:
   Residents who live well inland of storm surge zones may not have to evacuate.   However, the should protect their homes and gather enough supplies to last themselves and their families for three days after the storm makes landfall.

Secure Outdoor Property and Homes:   While some areas may not be in the direct path of the storm, property in those areas could sustain major damage due to high winds and heavy rains.  It is recommended that all nearby residents protect their homes by boarding the windows and clearing the yard of loose branches and other debris.

Gather Supplies:  This may be a final opportunity to gather supplies from local grocery stores.  All residents should have an emergency kit with bottled water, precooked nonperishable foods, flash lights, a battery powered radio and paper goods.  It is also important to keep ice on hand in case the power fails.  Candles are not recommended for safety reasons.

During the Disaster

If you are Outdoors

If you are outdoors:

  • Attempt to get into a building or a hardtop car and keep the windows closed.
  • If no structure is available, as quickly as possible go to an open space and squat low to the ground.  If in the woods, find an area protected by a low clump of trees; never stand beneath a single large tree in the open. Be aware of the potential for flooding in low-lying areas.
  • Kneel or crouch with hands on knees.
  • Avoid tall structures, such as towers, tall trees, fences, telephone lines, or power lines.
  • Stay away from natural lightning rods, such as golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles or camping equipment.
  • Stay away from rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water.
  • If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately.
  • If you are isolated in a level field and feel your hair stand on end, which indicated that lightning is about to strike, drop to your knees and bend forward, putting your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.
If you are in a vehicle

If you are in a vehicle:

  • Pull safely onto the shoulder of the road, away from any trees that could fall on the vehicle.
  • If flash flooding is possible, go to higher ground.
  • Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rains subside. If flash flooding is possible, abandon the vehicle and climb to higher ground.
  • Avoid flooded roadways.
If you are Indoors

If you are indoors:

  • Secure outdoor objects, such as lawn furniture, that could blow away or cause damage or injury.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest storm information.
  • Do not handle any electrical equipment or telephones, because lightning could follow the wire. Television sets are particularly dangerous at this time. Use telephones ONLY in an emergency.
  • Do not take a bath or shower. Metal pipes can transmit electricity.
  • Turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressors.

Tips on Rebuilding and getting back to life as usual

After the Disaster

After a storm or disaster, you will need to be aware of several things.  Since every disaster is unique, and every damage scenario is different, we cannot list everything on this one web site.  However, there are some specific things you will need to know and keep in mind.  If you do have a situation which is not covered here, please contact your local emergency management officials.

Sample News Release


DATELINE – Residents of (town/county) are cautioned not to drink the public water without purifying it first.  (The sewer lines have broken) or (The water processing plant has lost power for a short time) causing the water treatment process to be shut down.  Until the system has been checked for contamination, the water is unsafe to drink.

There are two ways to clean your water.   The first method, boiling, is the safest way to purify water.  Bring water to a rolling boil for three to five minutes.  Keep in mind that some of the water will evaporate, so boil more than is needed.  Let the water cool before drinking it.   To improve the boiled water taste, add oxygen to it by pouring it back and forth between two clean containers.

The second way to purify water is to use regular household bleach.  Scented and “Colorsafe” bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners are toxic and should not be used!!!  Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water and let stand for 30 minutes.  If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.

These purification methods will work to decontaminate water for drinking, washing, and cooking.  Please use them before drinking any public water that might be contaminated.

Insurance and Contractor Tips for Rebuilding

Take the following steps to ensure effective repairs on your damaged property:

  • Adjusters are required to properly identify themselves and, if requested, show you the license issued by the NC Department of Insurance.
  • If you feel the settlement offered by your insurer is not fair or complete, contact the company to provide additional information to support your claim.
  • You are not required to use the contractor the insurance company recommends.
  • You should use reliable, licensed contractors.
  • Get a written estimate and read the fine print. Deal with a local contractor if possible.
  • You should ask for references.
  • Make sure the contractor carries general liability insurance and workers� compensation.
  • Obtain a complete contract that states the tasks to be performed and all associated costs including, if applicable, costs for permits or licenses.
  • Ask for a written guarantee stating who is responsible for equipment and materials.
  • Avoid on-the-spot cash payments. The safest route is to write a check made out to the contracting company.
  • If you need to cancel a contract, cancellation should be done within three business days of signing. Be sure to follow the agreements stated in the cancellation clauses and send the notification by registered mail.
  • If excavation work is being performed, make sure a qualified inspector approves the work before it is hidden from view.
  • If you want to confirm that a public adjuster is licensed or have questions about the adjuster�s actions, you can call the Agent Services Division of the NC Department of Insurance at 919-733-4787.
  • If you have problems with a contractor or have been the victim of fraud, you are urged to contact your local Better Business Bureau or the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section at 919-716-6000.
  • You can call 1-800-546-5664, the Consumer Services Division of the NC Department of Insurance, with questions or concerns about your insurance coverage.
Recovery Information
Critical Telephone Numbers 
American Red Cross (Burlington)336-226-4906
Salvation Army (Burlington)336-228-0184
Alamance County Fire Marshal’s Office336-227-1365
Emergency Management (Local)336-227-1365
Emergency Management (Central Branch)919-575-4122
Emergency Management (State)919-733-3867


Sheriff’s Department336-570-6300
Building Inspectors – Alamance County336-228-1312
Building Inspectors – Burlington336-222-5080
Building Inspectors – Mebane919-563-5901
Building Inspectors – Graham336-570-6705
Alamance County Health Department336-227-0101
NC Forest Service (Alamance County Office)336-376-3596
Duke Power336-538-0015
Piedmont Natural Gas336-226-7335 or 336-227-5533
Public Service Gas919-563-3521
Bellsouth Repair Service611
Centurylink Telephone919-563-0500
Alamance County Manager’s Office336-228-1312
City Halls 
Haw River336-578-0784
Elon College336-584-0282
Green Level336-578-3443
Public Works 
Haw River336-578-5238
Elon College336-584-9600



Here’s a checklist of documents you will need to replace if they have been destroyed, and who to contact for information on the replacement process.

Driver’s LicenseNC Department of Motor Vehicles
Bank BooksYour bank, as soon as possible
Insurance PoliciesYour insurance agent
Military Discharge PapersLocal Veteran’s Administration
PassportsLocal Passport Office
Birth, Death, or Marriage CertificatesState Bureau of Records, in State Where Birth, Death, or Marriage took place
Divorce PapersCircuit Court where decree was issued
Social Security or Medicare CardsLocal Social Security office
Credit CardsThe issuing companies as soon as possible
Titles to deedsRegister of Deeds
Stocks and BondsIssuing company or your broker
WillsYour Attorney
Medical RecordsYour Doctor
WarrantiesIssuing Company
Income Tax RefundsState and Federal Revenue Service where return was filed
Auto Registration CardsNC Department of Motor Vehicle
Citizenship PapersThe US Immigration and Naturalization Service
Prepaid Burial ContractsIssuing Company
Animal Registration PapersSociety of Registry