Living on the Gulf Coast has it’s perks: sunshine most of the year, beautiful green space and from almost anywhere, you can make a day trip to the beach. The downside to living near the water is Hurricane Season. Annually, from June 1 to late November, we can expect everything from sprinkles to torrential rain to full-blown Hurricanes. It seems this part of the country operates in a perpetual state of weather awareness.
As we prep for this season, we often buy cases of water, shelf-stable food, and keep full gas tanks when we know a storm is within reach. We should also prepare financially! In your emergency go-bag, it’s always important to store the essentials. The American Red Cross has an extensive list and also offers additional information to prepare your home. Also included in your go-bag, should be any and all financial documents that you might need and don’t want to lose. The FDIC’s Money Smart Curriculum, “Disasters: Financial Preparation and Recovery”, offers a comprehensive list of things to think about and pre-plan before Hurricane Season or any other natural disaster.
Prepare in Advance for Disasters
Often, there’s no way to know for sure if a storm will touch your community and cause damage. Storms pivot and take an unexpected path so it is best to prepare in advance and prepare for the worst-case scenario.
- Insurance (home/renter’s, auto, flood) – do you have adequate insurance coverage? Keep records of your personal property and estimated values of what you own. Refer to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for guidance and tools to create an inventory of your property.
- Create an Emergency Savings Account – save time, money and stress by creating a realistic goal and build as you go. Open a TCB savings account here.
- Cash – keep some cash on hand in a safe place (waterproof bag/fire resistant box). In the event of a disaster, you might need to evacuate and need cash.
- Direct Deposit – if you don’t already have DD, sign up today! You don’t want to have to worry about where to cash your paycheck.
- Financial Documents – having access to your personal, financial, insurance, medical and other records will be crucial as you navigate post-disaster. Visit FEMA’s website to download the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit.
Watch out for scams!
Unfortunately, disasters are usually prime events for scams to gain traction. Scammers could pose as FEMA representatives, repair contractors, charities, bank employees and others. It’s important to be very selective when you hire or accept help post-disaster. Always check references and research organizations offering help. You should also monitor your credit reports and follow the Federal Trade Commission for scam alerts.
Prepare today so you are prepared for the unexpected. Visit www.READY.gov for checklists and more info regarding how you can prepare your business, people and pets you love.
By: Jenny Guzman
Third Coast Bank
SVP, CRA & Community Development Officer