Based on multiple rounds of household survey data collected in the year after the 1998 massive flooding in Bangladesh, we investigate the role of private transfers as a social coping response to natural disasters. We also explore the role of private transfers (gifts) as an informal insurance mechanism to smooth consumption in the face of an adverse covariate shock caused by the flooding. The level of transfers made is shown to be altruistically calibrated to the severity of flood exposure. As an indicator of the economic importance of such gifts, the amount of transfers received is shown to significantly contribute to reducing household consumption variability. We discuss the policy implications of our findings in a developing country context.