We all hope to never face a hurricane, a major flood, a wildfire, or an earthquake. And because we don't want to experience catastrophe, we also may not like to think about it. But when it does happen, people have to respond—and to get started, people may need to study up on some basic information. One place to start is with a new set of online resources from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), organized around a 73-page PDF pamphlet titled, "Rebuild Healthy Homes: Guide to Post-disaster Restoration for a Safe and Healthy Home."

Authored by Claudette Reichel, the Louisiana State University professor who anchors the university extension program's "LaHouse" demonstration home for resilient construction methods, the HUD document offers comprehensive pointers for re-entering an evacuated house after the flood or other catastrophe, with tips on safety and cleanup as well as reconstruction. The document focuses heavily on possible job-site contamination, from lead, radon, and asbestos to mold, with extensive advice on how to demo and dry out flooded property to keep mold from taking hold. A section on personal protection includes a basic homeowner option as well as a recommendation for full professional-level gear.