As in all emergency and disaster events, timely and clear communication with residents is key. Before, during and following the weather event, apartment residents will look to community managers and owners for guidance and resources.

NMHC’s Hurricane Resource Center remains the best option for news related to the storms. This document compiles in one place resources of primary interest to apartment community residents and staff.

Pre-Storm Preparations

The following resources can help your residents prepare for a federal disaster:

  • National Hurricane Center. Offers the latest weather advisories and information on the storm’s path.
  • FEMA Mobile App. Residents can create customizable checklist of emergency supplies and get information on maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips and weather alerts from the National Weather Service.
  • Red Cross Emergency App. Provides emergency weather alerts and information on what to do in the case of a flood. Displays shelter locations and gives tips on how to assemble an emergency kit. Also offers an “I’m Safe” button to let loved ones know they’re okay. The app has a Spanish language toggle switch and can be downloaded by visiting
  • contains a variety of helpful information for residents on what to do when there’s hurricane watch or warning alert for their local area while provides a variety of federal sources of disaster help and assistance.


Immediate (Temporary) Post-Storm Housing Resources

In the first days following a storm some apartment communities may need to inform their resident of alternative housing options. These include:

  • You can use the FEMA app to find a shelter near you or text SHELTER and your ZIP code to 4FEMA (43362).
  • Red Cross Open Shelters. Also, a list of what residents can and cannot bring.
    • If residents have time to prepare, they should bring prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, important documents and other comfort items. If possible, they should also include any special items for children such as diapers, formula and toys, and items needed by family members with unique needs. Importantly, after the lessons learned in Hurricane Katrina, many shelters do accept pets and the Red Cross web site will indicate which ones do.
  • Salvation Army Shelter Information
  • FEMA Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) was approved in Texas for eligible disaster survivors who have a continuing need for shelter because they are unable to return to their homes for an extended period of time. This initiative is intended to provide short-term lodging for eligible disaster survivors whose communities are either uninhabitable or inaccessible due to disaster-related damage. FEMA will contact you if you are eligible for the program. A listing of available hotels under this program can be found at
  • Airbnb Disaster Response Program


Post-Storm Financial Assistance

Disaster survivors are eligible for Individual Assistance through FEMA to help cover housing costs and immediate needs. There is no income threshold for FEMA assistance and the assistance does not have to be paid back. The federal government also offers low-interest loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help replace personal property lost in a disaster. Those must be repaid.

  • Determining Eligibility. There are several federal and private resources to help households who have financial needs following a federal disaster. Federal assistance can include grants for temporary housing and uninsured personal property losses. To determine if they qualify for help, residents should:
  • FEMA Individual Disaster Assistance. FEMA’s Individuals and Households Assistance program covers: lodging expenses (hotels), temporary housing (apartments), disaster-caused child care expenses, medical and dental expenses, funeral and burial expenses, clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, dehumidifier), disaster-caused damage to an essential vehicle, moving and storage expenses, other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA.
  • FEMA Expedited Rental AssistanceDisaster victims who apply for FEMA aid are qualified to receive financial aid to help cover housing needs.
  • Critical Needs Assistance (CNA) can help pay for water, food, first aid, prescriptions, infant formula, diapers, consumable medical supplies, durable medical equipment, personal hygiene items, and fuel for transportation. CNA is a one-time, limited payment per household, for eligible applicants who register for FEMA assistance.
  • Small Business Administration Loans. Renters can get low-interest loans from the SBA for up to $40,000 to replace damaged or destroyed personal property such as clothing, furniture, appliances, automobiles, etc.
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). Residents who live or work in the counties included in the major disaster declaration may qualify for DUA for through their state's Unemployment Commission. This may include people not normally eligible for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed persons and farm-workers.
    • U.S. Department of Labor: Disaster Unemployment Assistance or call toll free 1-877-872-5627 People who are hearing impaired may call this toll-free TTY number: 1-877-889-5627
  • Private Sources of Aid. In addition to federal assistance, residents may be able to receive assistance through the following private organizations.

Longer-Term Housing Assistance

  • FEMA Assistance. Hurricane survivors can receive up to 18 months of Continued Rental Assistance, plus the security deposit, from FEMA. To get assistance, residents need to: 
    • Complete a Declaration of Continuing Need for Rental Assistance. This is a legal document mailed to the rental assistance recipient 15 days after the rental assistance grant is received.
    • Return the Form to FEMA by: (1) mailing it to FEMA, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville MD 20782-8055; (2) faxing it to (800) 827-8112; or (3) Upload it to your FEMA Disaster Assistance Center account, available online at Click on Check Status to login or create an account.

      If you did not receive the form or have questions, contact the FEMA Helpline at (800) 621-3362 (voice, 711 or Voice Relay Service) or TTY (800) 462-7585, or visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). To find the nearest DRC use:
  • To be eligible for Continued Rental Assistance, you must meet the following conditions:
    • You were awarded initial rental assistance and used it as intended.
    • You are unable to return to your pre-Harvey residence because it is unlivable, cannot be accessed or is not usable due to the disaster.
    • You do not have money for housing without assistance.
    • You are not being given temporary housing help from any other source.
  • Finding Housing. If residents are forced to find other, longer-term housing options because a storm has made their current residence or community inhabitable, there are a number of databases that have been created to make empty units available to hurricane victims.
  • What if I can't find temporary housing? Call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 for help in finding rental resources.
  • Public/Section 8 Housing. If residents living in Public Housing or had a Section 8 voucher are displaced it is key they register with FEMA. Second, they should call their local Public Housing Agency. A list of contact numbers for all Public Housing Authorities by State can be found here. They can also call HUD’s Housing Hotline at 888/297-8685.  


Replacing Lost or Destroyed Vital Documents

Residents may need guidance on replacing vital documents that were destroyed in a flood or fire. Although the process varies state to state, these general steps can help them get started.

  • Birth Certificates. Find the vital records office in the state where the resident was born. Check to find out if you can obtain a certified copy of your birth certificate without any identification and follow the instructions. A few states don’t require a government-issued photo ID, or accept other solutions like a sworn statement of your identity. Some states allow your mother or father whose name is on the birth certificate to submit a notarized letter with a copy of their photo ID. If you do need your own government-issued photo ID to get a copy of your birth certificate, start with step 2.
  • Driver’s License. This task varies state to state. In some states, you can do it online.
  • Social Security Card. You will need a government-issued photo ID. Getting a replacement card is free.
  • Naturalization and Citizenship Documents. Contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to find out how to replace naturalization or citizenship documents.
  • Other Documents.  State or local election offices can tell help replace voter registration card. Learn how to replace other documents including Medicare and Medicaid cards and military and federal employee IDs.

Government agencies usually mail replacement vital documents. But if your home was destroyed in a disaster, you might not be able to get your mail. Contact your local post office and ask if you can pick up your mail there or request to have your mail forwarded to a temporary location. 

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