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On August 29, 2005, who knew an evacuation order would be the last time I would see New Orleans as I knew it. A “hurricane trip” as I referred to it happened frequently, so why would this time be anything different? My “hurricane trips” would usually turn out to be short vacations and time off from work. So, to be honest, I actually looked forward to it! But this time would be different. Hurricane Katrina destroyed my home, my personal belongings and left me homeless. More importantly, I was now faced with many financial uncertainties.
With the start of hurricane season, how can you protect yourself financially?
Make a “To Go” System
Using a simple accordion folder, create tabs using a checklist for important financial documents that may be necessary in case of an evacuation order. Your folder should include the following items:
- Insurance documents
- Titles and deeds
- Birth certificates and social security cards
- Photographs of personal property
- Tax returns
- Irreplaceable items (pictures, rare coins or currency, etc.)
Oftentimes after a disaster, many government agencies and organizations require these documents. Therefore, it is a great idea to have them on hand.
Review your insurance
Depending where you reside, it is important to make certain you insure against all risks that can affect your area. During Hurricane Katrina, many residents did not have adequate insurance because they only carried homeowners insurance but neglected to carry additional flood insurance policies. Take time to visit with an insurance agent to determine whether you should carry additional insurance beyond your basic homeowner’s policy.
Keep Cash on Hand
Quite often you may hear, save some cash in case of a disaster. But, I am here to tell you not only save cash, but keep cash on hand. I can recall during Hurricane Katrina how difficult it was to access funds from ATMs.
Since I banked locally, not only was I out of pocket, but my financial institution was as well! So make certain you take some cash when you evacuate. It can go a mighty long way.
Remember: your choice, your future!
Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant and professor at Dillard University. Check out her ebook Let your budget inspire you!