Give InKind’s Care Calendar helps answer the central question of how to give or receive support. In this case, we consider how to set up a support page for someone who has recently experienced the loss of their home to a house fire, a wildfire, or another natural disaster.
Our guide maps a path applicable to various types of home loss – flood, fire, tornado, or hurricane. While needs in each of these categories are very distinct from one another, they share the common element of simultaneous, or macro impact concentrated in one region. For all the categories, extensive physical damage is likely to be the common element to which communities must respond.
No two experiences will be the same – some house fires are isolated, and the result of faulty wiring. Other house fires lie in the path of a raging wildfire. Or, consider that flood planes are changing; flood insurance is notoriously complex. (See a Sample Give InKind Page for loss Loss of Home to Fire or Natural Disaster here.)
Begin by identifying a close friend in a position to speak with the recipient about what needs they have, and how their community can offer meaningful assistance.
Needs will differ and it is useful to begin by making sure that recipients understand their insurance policies. Begin by reviewing an insurance policy with the recipient, and seeking legal counsel if necessary. There are reputable no-to-low cost legal services with specific knowledge of natural disaster assistance. Recipients will likely have an immediate need for shelter. They may need seasonal items, such as coats in the winter, summer clothes if it is warm. We invite you to add as many items to the Care Calendar as you wish.
- Food: Meals and groceries for the family are always among the most popular calendar items. Providing food to people who are temporarily displaced is almost always most easily done with gift cards or take-out delivery to wherever they’re staying.
- Childcare: (If applicable) If the house that was destroyed was a single home, it may be possible to scaffold the concept of “normal" a bit more than would be the case if the house loss was part of a larger wildfire or a larger regional disaster. The takeaway: if there are children involved, ask the parents what is most helpful. Childcare is helpful as it is upsetting for children to be present when parents are trying to find things to salvage in the rubble.
- Pet Care: (If applicable) Are there pets to care for? It is highly likely that temporary arrangements like boarding or dog sitting will need to be made (this is a big one).
- Home Services: This applies to things like visits from the insurance company, or estimates from contractors. There is a lot to learn. Having the gentle and supportive presence of a friend is deeply valued (those on hand can even take some notes).
- Other: “Other" is the ultimate catch-all category. In the case of a house fire or natural disaster “other" can be things like helping to identify items and attempt to repair, clean, or restore them. This is especially important when the value of the item is primarily sentimental. Water and smoke damage, while often extensive, can sometimes be remedied. Those who survive house fires, floods, and tornadoes report that the thing they miss the most is the thing that insurance can never replace.
People will have different financial circumstances. Ask whether they need an advocate to be sure that their insurance policy has paid out all that is owed to them. If there is such a need, simply enable the fundraising button on your Give InKind page and connect your PayPal or GoFundMe account.
The Give InKind Wishlist is another opportunity for others to meaningfully support a family coping with the loss of a home. Browse Give InKind’s curated list for suggested items that could help in their unique situation. When you see an item that could be helpful, use the “+" icon to add to your Wishlist.
You may also add an existing Amazon Wishlist to your Give InKind page.
Use Give InKind’s do-not-disturb section to let others know about the recipient’s communication preferences.
- Phone Calls: How do the recipients like to communicate – a phone call or text? It can be difficult to know when they will be available to answer the phone. Asking about preferences lets them know they are being thought of even if they can’t always talk.
- Visitors: If they don’t mind visitors, use the Special Notes section to clarify when and where people should visit.
- Flowers: Although kind gestures are always incredibly considerate, we gently remind that flowers aren’t likely to be especially helpful here.
Add unlimited updates to keep friends and family informed. If the recipients do not wish to communicate by phone or text, this is a great place to designate a third-party to act as the family spokesperson.
The loss of a home is traumatic. A house represents a sense of place, even an identity. The loss of this is jarring and logistically complicated. A support system helps to create a space for them to process their feelings. Build your support page here. If you have any further questions, visit Give InKind’s Help Center or view our helpful articles about the loss of a home.
Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.