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Post-Disaster Financial Checklist

In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, many Americans are in the process of rebuilding their lives following a natural disaster. After the initial shock passes, there are a number of things individuals and families must tackle as they try to return to day-to-day life.

But even if you don’t live an area that’s prone to hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires or other natural disasters, it’s good to know what to in the event of an emergency. The truth is, anyone can suffer an unexpected event, such as a house fire or flood, so it’s good to be prepared.                      

Our friends at the NFCC have put together this post-disaster checklist to help people organize and prioritize their financial lives following a disaster. Even if you don’t need it now, it’s a good idea to bookmark it for reference.

  1. Contact your flood and home insurance companies and file insurance claims.
    • Know what your insurance company covers and provides in the recovery period, such as reimbursement for living expenses.
    • Be able to provide an inventory of all your belongings.
    • Take pictures and email them to yourself, your insurance agent and back them up to the cloud if possible so you have them when you need them.
  1. Notify your utility and cable companies if your residence is uninhabitable so the bills will be halted.
  2. Contact your creditors, including your mortgage company, auto lender, and credit card companies.
    • Let them know all of the details about the impact of the natural disaster on your life and your ability to make timely payments.
    • Late fees are typically waived for those residing in areas impacted by a natural disaster and in extreme cases monthly payments may be deferred for a period of time.
    • Obtain a copy of your credit report from all three of the credit reporting agencies. This can be done for free at com
    • If the disaster impacts your ability to pay and affects your credit report, you can add a 100-word statement to your credit report to explain how a natural disaster has disrupted your life and may interfere with the ability to make creditor payments. (This doesn’t protect your credit rating, but it may help your circumstances and influence future lending decisions.)
  1. Know where you can find help after a disaster.
    • Contact your state and county offices of emergency preparedness.
    • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Visit fema.gov or reach FEMA by phone at 800.480.2520.
    • American Red Cross- Visit redcross.org and enter your ZIP code in the “Find Your Local Red Cross” area or click or tap on “Plan and Prepare” to see many more facts and tips on disaster preparedness. Call your local chapter for more specific information. Download disaster-specific apps for your smartphone at redcross.org/ prepare/mobile-apps.
    • Salvation Army- Visit salvationarmyusa.org for more information.
    • Volunteers of America- Call 800.899.0089 or visit voa.org for more information.
    • National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster; Visit nvoad.org for more information.
  1. Research special programs that apply to your family, such as veteran’s benefits.
    • You could be eligible for a monthly benefit. For more information, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website at va.gov
  1. Beware of post disaster scam artists.
    • If you feel uncomfortable, just say “no”.
    • Always be cautious when wiring or donating money.

Before making any big financial decisions, such as taking out a reverse mortgage, tapping into a retirement fund, or filing bankruptcy, talk with one our certified Credit Counselors. They can help you understand your current financial situation and discuss alternatives to help you get back on track.