With the world's many tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, many people have been given an in-depth look at a disaster's devastating effects. Physical safety should be the first concern, of course. However, after the emergency passes, it is time for reality to set in. In many cases, people lose their homes and personal belongings. While you cannot entirely prepare yourself against a natural disaster, you can develop your finances so you can quickly recover and get back on your feet once the emergency is over.
Preparations to Take In Advance
Here are some ways to prepare your finances in advance.
Start and Maintain an Emergency Fund
The rule of thumb is to have a minimum of up to six months of your expenses saved up as an emergency fund. While you may think of this emergency fund as money to use in the event you lose your job; you also want to ensure you have enough to live on while recovering from a natural disaster.
Take Out Emergency Cash
While you may typically rely on your debit or credit cards, what happens if the power goes out and you lose access to your bank account? You need to have actual cash on hand to cover you for at least a week in case you are told to evacuate.
Have Adequate Homeowners Insurance
You should have your home adequately insured so if there is a natural disaster you can rely on it to help you rebuild your home and your personal belongings. Get insurance now, don't wait until a tragedy has struck when it is too late.
Dealing with an Immediate Disaster
Assessing your financial situation is the first step when dealing with the aftermath of an immediate disaster. Once disaster strikes, your financial situation can become fluid and will likely continually change as you are going through the recovery process. Once you are safe and can access the internet or phone, you will want to:
- Evaluate your monthly expenses and income pre- and post-disaster
- Calculate your available assets and liabilities
- Review your credit report
- Assess whether you are still able to make your monthly payments like your car or mortgage payments
How to Get Help Afterward
After the disaster passes and it leaves you with no home or no job, there are ways of getting help.
File for Unemployment
If you cannot go back to work right away, apply for unemployment. The unemployment office in your town can help you, or you can use the FEMA site to file for unemployment assistance.
You might have to find short-term work in another area or find a new job entirely while your community is going through the rebuilding process.
Apply for FEMA Grant and Use Its Other Resources
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides emergency relief help to people following a natural disaster. You may be eligible for FEMA funds up to $33,000 through the Individuals and Households Program and FEMA directly. This assistance can help to repair your home to make it livable again or will pay for the expense of temporary housing.
The Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) helps financially prepare you and offers tips for reducing the impact disasters may leave on your finances.
A natural disaster can strike anywhere at any time. No matter what type of disaster it is, it can leave devastating results. While you may have emergency resources ready to go like bottled water, flashlights, extra food and batteries, you need to consider if you are prepared financially for the aftermath. The above tips can help.