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3 Tips for Recovering Financially From a Natural Disaster

3 Tips for Recovering Financially From a Natural Disaster
(Alan Crosthwaite/Dreamstime)

By    |   Friday, 20 October 2017 10:40 AM

The destruction left by recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria could total a combined $200 billion, according to some estimates.

Areas in Texas and Florida were extremely hard hit, and virtually the entire island of Puerto Rico was devastated.

Wildfires raged in Northern California, giving the United States four natural disasters in just over month. The frequency and intensity of these horrific events naturally led to the sobering questions: What if it happened to you? How would you, or could you, recover financially?

You need to have a plan ahead of time. And there are some things you need to do very quickly after the disaster happens.

First, have your important documents digitally prepared. You’ve just gone through something very emotional – maybe you’re out of your house forever, maybe a month – but the last thing you want to have to deal with is how to pay your bills. I strongly suggest having an electronic backup of every document, bill and paper that is important. This includes all of your insurance policies, estate-planning documents, powers of attorney, etc.

Quickly identify all entities that can provide you help and don’t delay in contacting them. This starts with your insurance company and reviewing your policies. Two organizations to consider quickly for financial relief are FEMA and the Small Business Administration.

Go back home. If you had to evacuate, it’s important to get back in your residence as quickly and safely as possible, especially after a flood, given the possible water damage. That’s really where your recovery starts. You’ve got to face the situation, as hard as it is emotionally. That’s because mold sets in normally 24 to 48 hours after the interior of a home is first dampened.

Before you start the cleanup, make sure to document everything, taking hundreds of pictures if necessary for insurance purposes. Everything that’s wet needs to be removed, and if your insurance doesn’t provide emergency relief in that regard, do it yourself as long as it can be done safely.

Finally, remember that you’re not alone. There’s a lot of emotion that’s going on, and when you get in your neighborhood and talk to other people going through the same thing, you realize you’re not the only one.

Bonding with the people is important, and you’ll be amazed at how many people help you and vice versa. The last thing you want to be is alone.

Andrew Anable is a financial planner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group in Santa Barbara, Calif. He has been helping families with their estate, financial and retirement needs for more than 20 years. His areas of knowledge include tax planning, long-term care planning, asset protection, legacy planning, and insurance and investment strategies. He holds professional licenses in California, Arizona, Utah, and Arkansas.

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You need to have a plan ahead of time. And there are some things you need to do very quickly after the disaster happens.
recover, financial, natural, disaster
Friday, 20 October 2017 10:40 AM
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