A Community Leader’s Guide to Finding House Fire Victim Assistance

fire-victim-assistance

Wildfires. Floods. Hurricanes. Tornadoes. House fires …

Natural disasters can wreak havoc on an entire state or coast. A few hours of intense weather can destroy an entire community.

Fires, gas leaks, broken underground pipes, and sinkholes can decimate a single-family home or disrupt an entire neighborhood.

And when people face an unexpected crisis that they have no control over, they often turn to three entities:

  1. The federal government
  2. Local and state government agencies
  3. Emergency assistance organizations

These organizations and agencies can provide disaster relief in a time of need.

From house fires that displace one or two families to widespread disasters that cause massive community displacement (and require months of clean-up), local governments and charitable organizations always step in and do what they can to help.

Looking for some better ways to provide housing to your community in an emergency situation?

Here’s how to do so.

Table of Contents

1. Governments and Charitable Organizations Work Hand in Hand
2. Some Disaster Victims Rely on FEMA
3. Some Disaster Victims Turn to National Organizations
4. Citizens Need Government Agencies and Relief Organizations to Help
5. How Hotel Engine Can Help
6. Set Up Your Hotel Engine Account BEFORE Disaster Strikes
7. Governments Can Also Save on Housing for Their Employees


Governments and Charitable Organizations Work Hand in Hand

When a disaster strikes, the first job of the government and emergency management professionals is to mitigate the damage. They put out the fire as quickly as possible to stop it from spreading. They seal up the broken pipe to prevent further flooding. They evacuate people from unsafe locations and shelter them (albeit temporarily) in a more secure area until the immediate threat has passed.

The next step in the process is to assess the damage. Once local officials know the scope of the damage, they work on restoring any services lost, such as electricity, gas, and water. Then — and only then — can they begin the process of repairing damaged homes and property

The mitigation, assessment, and restoration processes can take days, weeks, or even years, depending on the situation.

Every disaster is different, and every remediation process is different, but they all have one thing in common:

Tax-paying, hardworking community members will be temporarily homeless with nowhere to sleep.


Some Disaster Victims Rely on FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the go-to government entity people turn to after a disaster. But applying for financial assistance and government-paid housing through fema.gov or disasterassistance.gov takes time. And when people are in a position where they don’t know where they’re sleeping that night, time is something they do not have.

As a government agency or charitable organization, you have the ability, as well as the responsibility, to step in and help people in need. You can provide people that need assistance with everything from bottled water to diapers to free meals. But having a roof and shelter overhead is, by far, the thing that people in need require the most.

FEMA generally acts quickly to set up temporary housing shelters in communities in need. Yet, private housing is always preferable for families with small children or elderly people who need specific types of care.

And waiting for the government to provide individual emergency housing can be a frustrating process that only compounds a tragic disaster and loss.

Note: Hotel Engine works with government organizations to provide the shelter data needed to get faster reimbursement from FEMA. Learn more.


Some Disaster Victims Turn to National Organizations

Firefighters extinguishing fire

While disaster recovery may fall mostly on state, local, and federal government, citizens often turn to charitable organizations for immediate needs — particularly when it comes to housing.

When a hurricane or wildfire tears through a town, organizations such as the American Red CrossThe Salvation Army, and the United Way are always quick to provide assistance to those who need it.

Before a disaster strikes, it’s important to have an emergency preparedness plan in place. Government agencies should create a list of contacts at the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, and other charitable organizations now. By doing so, you’ll have a direct line of communication already established that you can rely on if and when a disaster hits.

It’s also a good idea for local government officials to maintain a list of up-to-date contacts at local houses of worship, which are often able to provide relief quickly to the community.

A temporary shelter at a local school or nearby church is sometimes the most affordable and immediate solution, but it isn’t always the best solution. It may be sufficient for most families for a night or a weekend, but many will need more long-term solutions. Solutions such as permanent, private housing where they can rest assured that their family is safe and secure.

If you work for a local government agency or a national relief organization, you already know that even setting up temporary shelters can take time. And every minute that ticks by causes more stress on the victims and on those of you trying to provide assistance.

In that moment, all you want to do is provide victims with immediate relief, and a hotel room is the perfect way to do that. With a registered account at Hotel Engine, you can start booking affordable hotel rooms at discounted rates within a matter of a few minutes.

Hotel Engine teamed up with the American Red Cross for relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey and Irma.. Read about their hurricane disaster relief efforts here.


Citizens Need Government Agencies and Relief Organizations to Help

Some people can tap their homeowners’ insurance for housing and additional assistance in a disaster or emergency. Renters may be able to rely on their landlords or property managers to pay for temporary housing if they’ve been displaced from their primary residence. Some displaced individuals may be able to secure temporary corporate housing or ask their employer for assistance.

Unfortunately, others don’t have these options. Those individuals need government offices or charitable organizations to sweep in and make a terrible situation as stress-free as possible.

By setting up the members of your community with free or affordable hotel rooms, you can at least give people some peace of mind. 

With so much uncertainty ahead of them, at least they’ll know where they’re going to sleep until their homes and communities are rebuilt.

Yet the more displaced people in your community, the more difficult this can be.

While you’re waiting for federal assistance or temporary FEMA housing to be set up, hotel rooms are the most logical option for flood or fire victims. (Or those displaced by gas explosions, hurricanes, and other disasters.)

The problem that many agencies and organizations face is that booking hotel rooms for hundreds of disaster victims at the same time can be extremely challenging. Not to mention incredibly expensive and taxing on resources.

Depending on your community, hotel rooms at a two-star hotel may cost as little as $20-$30 per night. Yet, that adds up quickly when you’re looking to house dozens or hundreds of people at a time.

The good news is that there is a way to make the process easier and more cost-effective:

Hotel Engine.


How Hotel Engine Can Help

Luxury hotel lobby with white tile floor and floor-to-ceiling windows

Hotel Engine saves members up to 60%% off hotel rooms. It’s free to join and use, making it the premier online booking service for small businesses, large businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies alike.

As a member of Hotel Engine, your agency or organization can provide disaster survivors with immediate, direct assistance in the form of a safe shelter. In a matter of minutes, you can book multiple hotel rooms at discounted rates and provide safe, private housing assistance to those in need.

Here’s how it works:

When you search for available hotel rooms on the website, you’ll see the Hotel Engine rate next to each hotel as well as the GSA rate if you are a government agency. This makes it easy to see the difference in rates and choose which hotels to book.

Related: 10 of the Best Business Travel Hotels in Texas


Set Up Your Hotel Engine Account BEFORE Disaster Strikes

As a government agency or relief organization, it will be even easier to find immediate temporary housing for disaster victims if you create a Hotel Engine account before disaster strikes. That way, when the moment arrives, you can simply log onto your account and start booking available rooms at great prices without any further delay.

Because it’s free to use and free to sign up, this provides you with a built-in back-up plan for an emergent situation, a back-up plan that you can implement on a moment’s notice to give victims peace of mind right away.


Governments Can Also Save on Housing for Their Employees

When a major disaster happens, government agencies send dozens (or even hundreds) of relief workers to help communities rebuild, restore electricity, and provide recovery services. With Hotel Engine, you can save on hotel rooms for these essential players as well.

From crew lodging to project-based stays, Hotel Engine is the best way to save money while booking hotels for large groups. Managing large groups of travelers can be tricky when every individual books separately or through a different platform.

Hotel Engine makes it easy to manage and view all your travel arrangements in one easy-to-use place.

Hotel Engine partners with over 700,000 hotels around the globe; sign up for their free platform now.


When an unexpected disaster strikes, you need to be able to provide families and individuals with a safe place to stay that night. Yes, some will turn to friends and family for temporary shelter or contact their insurance agent to see if their policy will cover the costs.

Still, many people will only have one option:

To rely on the government and charitable organizations to provide them with some much-needed help.

Whether you run a non-profit or a state agency, Hotel Engine can be your partner in preparedness. Hotel Engine can help provide immediate, affordable housing for victims of fires, floods, and other emergency situations.

Visit Hotel Engine’s official website or contact Hotel Engine’s Project Services Team to learn more about how you can provide immediate assistance to disaster survivors in need.