Financial First Aid: Revive Your Finances After a Disaster Strikes
A recent survey by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), found that only 34 percent of Americans said they would have access to financial, insurance and other records if they had to evacuate in a disaster. Now that hurricane season has begun, that slim response is pushing FEMA regional directors to promote financial preparedness along with other safety reminders.
“Don’t hinder your recovery if disaster strikes. Take the time now to ensure critical documents are safely stored, valuables are adequately insured, and potential spending needs are planned for,” said Andrew Velasquez III, regional administrator for the FEMA Midwest region.
Among FEMA’s tools and advice:
- FEMA has created an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit which provides reams of information, including documents to store online or on a flash drive, such as household bills, credit card statements and loan information. That information can help stabilize your financial status after a disaster and can be critical for avoiding fines if you are late on bills and for certain loans and grants.
- FEMA also recommends enrolling in online banking, direct deposit for paychecks and Go Direct for online deposits of federal benefits such as social security. This will help people avoid disruptions in income due to a disaster.
- FEMA recommends people keep some cash or traveler’s checks in a plastic bag in their Go Kit. After many disasters power outages keep ATMs offline, just when many businesses—also without power to process credit card transactions—were often requiring payment in cash only.
- Take the time now to print out a copy of Recovery after Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit, developed by the University of Minnesota Extension and North Dakota State University Extension Service after disasters in those states. The toolkit is full of critical information such as what information you’ll need to show to secure a small business loan if your business is destroyed. The kit also has fill-in logs that help keep track of assistance you’ve requested and responses.
>>Bonus Link: The 2014 Consumer Action Handbook has information on avoiding financial scams including many that people can fall prey to after a disaster.