Is your disaster preparedness plan disaster ready?
Hurricane Harvey, the biggest natural disaster in United States history, was a huge eye opener for my husband and I as it relates to our disaster preparedness plan. As we watched the devastation and heard the heartbreaking stories, we also became aware of what you need to have ready and available should a disaster strike your area. Now, we don’t live in hurricane country. We don’t live in tornado country. We don’t live in a flood zone. But we do live in Southern California which is earthquake country and the chances of a major earthquake occurring is not if but when. The best time to make sure your disaster preparedness plan is in order is before the disaster happens. Click To Tweet FEMA (The Federal Emergency Management Agency) is the federal agency that comes on the scene when a big disaster like Hurricane Harvey happens. It is designed to help individuals get back on their feet after a disaster happens. Yet FEMA is still a government agency and all government agencies have rules to follow. So while the FEMA employees will have empathy for you and your situation, unless you have the necessary papers they require before they can assist you, your ability to get help and move on will be severely hindered. That is why It is vital to have your disaster preparedness plan in place before you ever have to use it. Click To Tweet On the FEMA website, they have a 21 page document that helps you organize your disaster preparedness plan.
The purpose of the document is to help you prepare to:
§ Prove the identity of all household members in a post-disaster situation; § Maintain or re-establish contact with your family or other members of your household; § Maintain contact with your employer or the employers of others in your household; and § Apply for FEMA disaster assistance benefits
As you gather the recommended information, it is also important to remember to have at least 5 copies of each critical document: Social Security Card, Drivers License, Passport, House Deed, Home Insurance, and Life Insurance. Why have 5 copies on hand? Because multiple copies of each document will be required by different agencies (FEMA, your insurance company, your city, etc.) and chances are, after a disaster strikes, access to copy machines to make those copies may not be possible due to lack of electricity, damage to machines, etc. The FEMA document is easy to store on your computer and in the cloud. You should also keep a hard copy in a fireproof lock-box along with the other critical documents. I am also sending an electronic copy to our kids so that they are aware of our information. And it doesn’t hurt that they live out of state, away from our potential disaster. When we began pulling together all of our critical documents for our disaster preparedness plan, we anticipated finding them all in order, up to date, and easily accessible. WRONG. What we actually found revealed that:
- My husband’s passport had expired earlier this year.
- My husband had no idea where his Social Security Card was.
- The Life Insurance Policy that we’ve been paying on my husband for the past 25 years is no longer in effect.
- Our home insurance is out of date. When we originally purchased the insurance, we were a young family on a tight budget and just got the minimum coverage. Times have changed and our insurance has not. If a disaster happened tomorrow, we would be grossly under-insured.
- We did not have the most recent copy of our Trust Deed.
Pathetic, right? Not actually. Now we know exactly what we need to move on in an urgent and timely fashion in order to have an effective disaster preparedness plan in place. It would have been a lot more pathetic to find this all out after a disaster strikes. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. They have a long road ahead of them to restore what they once knew. At the same time, I’m grateful for what I have learned from this devastating catastrophe: It's worth the effort to have & maintain a current disaster preparedness plan to have peace in time of need. Click To Tweet What have you done to establish a disaster preparedness plan?