This Citizen Corps News Digest is provided by FEMA's Individual & Community Preparedness Division to highlight community preparedness and resilience resources and activities recently announced by federal agencies and Citizen Corps partners.

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Power of One

Picture this—You're stranded on the highway for hours, in the cold, with little food and no heat and your car just ran out of gas. The nearest restroom is at least three miles away and you don't know when you'll be in the comfort of your home again. This was the case for many metro Atlanta residents during a winter storm that recently hit the south. Out of this tragedy, however, came triumph - people took action and helped each other overcome this crisis.

There were countless stories of people opening their homes to strangers, offering food to the hungry, walking to get medication for those in need and more. Many of these citizen rescue operations were coordinated on the Facebook page, “ Snowed Out Atlanta .” Within a few hours this page quickly gained 50,000 followers who not only reached out to get help, but to serve their neighbors. The woman who started this page, Michelle Sollicito, is a mother, wife and most of all an everyday community member who wanted to help. She took action and stepped up to be a community ambassador. 

You, just like Michelle, can also be a community ambassador for preparedness. Use your social media channels, email or word-of-mouth to share these five actions people can do now to get prepared!

  1. Visit and familiarize yourself with steps to take before, during and after every natural disaster.
  2. Practice and implement – don't just educate yourself on preparedness actions; practice them with family, friends and coworkers. Why wait to build an emergency kit ?—do it today!
  3. Download the FEMA mobile application . It contains disaster safety tips, an interactive emergency kit list, emergency meeting location information and a map with open shelters and open FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers.
  4. Start or join a local CERT or Citizen Corps Council.
  5. Spread the word about America's PrepareAthon! coming this spring – follow the campaign on Twitter at @PrepareAthon and share preparedness tips and how you‘re preparing others by using #prepareAthon.

Take Shelter

Taking appropriate shelter is critical for protection in times of disaster. When conditions require it, you may need to seek shelter in your home, workplace or school. Sheltering outside the hazard area could include staying with friends or relatives or at a mass care facility operated by disaster relief groups. 

The safest location to seek shelter varies by hazard. For example, select a room in a basement or an interior room on the lowest level away from windows and outside walls if a tornado strikes. 

Depending on the type of disaster, there may be times when it is best to “ shelter in place ” to avoid uncertainty outdoors. Some guidelines for sheltering in place include: 

  • Bring your family and pets inside immediately;
  • Get your emergency supply kit ;
  • Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers; and
  • Go to an interior room with few or no windows.

If the need arises, you could be asked to create a barrier of protection between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside. Learn the steps required to “ seal the room .” It could be a matter of survival!


Budget for Preparedness

In a recent FEMA household survey, we learned more than a quarter of participants reported they believe getting prepared is too expensive. Creating your disaster preparedness kit does not have to be costly! In fact, many of the items for your kit may be found around your home! 

After you have built the majority of your kit from items already in your home, you can begin to build a list for the remaining items. Here are some additional tips from citizens across the country for keeping your disaster kit cost-friendly: 

  • Shop at discount and dollar stores where appropriate;
  • Trade extra supplies with friends or family; and
  • Check the newspaper or online listings for discounted products.

For more simple and cost-friendly disaster kit suggestions, and easy steps you should take if disaster strikes, you can access FEMA's free online “ Preparedness on a Shoestring ” activity module.

The “Preparedness on a Shoestring” activity module is part of FEMA's “ Preparedness Activities for Communities Everywhere ” tools, which educates individuals about relatively easy steps to take to become prepared for all types of hazards.


Disaster Recovery

While recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process, there are important financial decisions to make in the days immediately following it. Organizations like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can guide you through some of those decisions. Here's what you need to know regarding finances and your home: 

  • Take pictures of the damage and contact your insurance company to start the claims process;
  • If your income is interrupted and you can't pay credit cards or other loans, contact the lenders before the next payment is due;
  • Take a look at your bills and set priorities. Pay your mortgage, rent and insurance payments first; and
  • Ask your utility companies to suspend your service if you are unable to live in your home.

Remember, damage to your home does not stop your responsibility to pay your mortgage. Contact your mortgage servicer and let them know your situation. There are a number of options available that may help you delay or reduce your payments.

You may also qualify for FEMA disaster assistance if you are in a presidentially declared disaster area . Should an immediate need for food, shelter or water arise, the American Red Cross or United Way can also help.


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About FEMA

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at,,, and Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.