2017 Hurricane Response

How is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services supporting response efforts?

Read the latest news on HHS response to the hurricanes the Southeast United States, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. 


Do you or a loved one need help after the storm?

The Administration for Community Living awards grants to states and organizations for a variety of programs, including many that provide services and supports to older adults and people with disabilities. Our grantees are working closely with disaster response efforts in all areas affected by Harvey and Irma to assess needs and connect people to help. However, ACL programs do not provide assistance directly to individuals.

The resources below can connect you to the services available in your area to help meet your specific needs. We will add to this list as additional information is available.  Please do not email ACL to apply for individual assistance. We can only refer you to the resources below, and we don't want you to lose valuable time that could be spent applying for help in the right place. Applications must made directly to the programs providing assistance.

ACL's Eldercare Locator was created to connect older adults and their caregivers to a variety of services and supports, but the service also has similar information for people with disabilities. The Eldercare Locator is available online around the clock. The service also can be reached by telephone at 1-800-677-1116, or by chat via the website, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern. 

The FEMA Disaster Assistance website will connect you to the FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers closest to your address. You also can fill out an online tool to be connected to more resources and/or apply for assistance online.  

The FEMA Helpline can answer questions about the help offered by FEMA and how to apply for assistance. Call 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362)
  • TTY 1-800-462-7585
  • 711 or VRS 1-800-621-3362

FEMA also has created a series of accessible videos that explain available assistance in a question-and-answer format. These are narrated verbally and include video of a person providing the same information using American Sign Language. A transcript can be found on the page below each video. 

The SAMHSA Distress Helpline provides 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. To connect with a trained crisis counselor:

  • Call 1-800-985-5990  (press "2" for Spanish)
  • Text TalkWithUs to 66746

Spanish Speakers:

  • Call 1-800-985-5990 and press "2"
  • From the U.S., text Hablanos to 66746

In Florida and Texas:

2-1-1 telephone service is operational across all areas affected by Hurricane Harvey and the Florida counties affect by Hurricane Irma. This a free, confidential service that connects people from all communities to essential health and human services. The service provides local information about evacuation routes, shelters, food and water, health resources, and other needs.

Call 2-1-1, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. There may be a wait, but calls will be answered. In Florida, you can also text “Irma” to 898-211, or visit www.211.org to find your local provider and more information.

The Florida Alliance for Assistive services and Technology has a survey to assess the need for assistive devices in the state of Florida after Hurricane Irma. 

Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) benefits are now available to affected Texas residents. Households that may not normally be eligible for SNAP under regular rules may qualify for D-SNAP if they meet the disaster income limits and have qualifying disaster-related expenses. The program offers short-term food assistance benefits to families recovering from a disaster. D-SNAP is designed to help when people return to their homes and have access to electricity and grocery stores.  There is a limited period of time to apply for D-SNAP, based on your county of residence, and you must apply in person.  For more information, visit the Texas Health and Human Services web page about the program. 

Looking for loved ones?

The American Red Cross Safe and Well website is a free public reunification tool that allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always available (in English and Spanish) and open to the public.  Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website. Registrations can also be completed by texting SAFE to 78876. Messages exist in both Spanish and English. To speak with someone at the American Red Cross concerning a missing friend or relative, please contact 1-800 Red Cross (1-800-733-2767).

Practical tips for staying safe and healthy after the storm

HHS's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has put together great pages for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma with links to information from across HHS, as well as links to web sites and social media for each affected state and territory.. A few highlights include:

Avoiding Fraud 

Unfortunately, there are always people who try to take advantage of others in the aftermath of disasters. Be on alert for phony requests for donations, identity theft, and email phishing scams. Other resources that can help: 


Last modified on 02/28/2018

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