A Guide to Your Rights During and After a Disaster

During and after a major disaster, emergency responders, government agencies and other organizations must act quickly and effectively to minimize damage and help people who have been affected by the disaster. This often means workers both inside and outside of the government must take on emergency roles different than their normal jobs, and all groups and organizations must work together to respond to the emergency.

However, just because a disaster has occurred, this does not mean the Constitution no longer applies. If you are or have been affected by a disaster, you have the same constitutional rights as before, including equal treatment and due process of law. Protection of these rights is especially important for people who do not have friends or family who can help or who do not have emergency savings. Our “What to Do If Disaster Strikes” guide will help you find the supplies and services you may need during and immediately after a major disaster.

We created this guide after the widlfires of October 2007, when more than 500,000 residents of San Diego became part of the largest evacuation in the region’s history. In many instances, immigrants, poor members of the community, homeless people, and detained populations were shut out of the relief effort. Several journalists were harassed and denied entry to the aftermath of the fires and unable to cover the relief efforts.

Special thanks to artist Alonso Nuñez for creating a special comic version of the disaster brochure. The comic is also available in Spanish and Vietnamese. If you’d like us to email you a copy, please contact us and specify what language version you would like.

The full brochure is also available in Arabic. If you’d like a copy, send us an email and we’ll get it out to you right away!