After several days of storm-related clean up, Texans and other costal state residents are still working to dig themselves out of one heck of a mess. It’s heartbreaking watching the stories coming out of Hurricane Harvey’s warpath. So much grand-scale destruction.
Interestingly, we have a couple of friends who live in Texas. One owns a winter getaway condo in Port Aransas, one of the hardest hit areas.
Another family we know and cherish lives on the outskirts of the hardest affected inland areas of the storm. They had to deal with a lot of rain, but no flooding, power outages or imminent dangers. However, they are still being affected. Rising gas and food prices are putting a dent in their monthly budgets.
In our own world here in the Midwest, we got hit by a tornado in the middle of July. While the damage was mostly contained to several large downed trees, the incident – along with stories from our Texas friends – taught us a lot about how to prepare financially if you’ve got a large storm coming your way.
Natural Disasters are Often Predictable
The good news regarding natural disasters is that modern technology has made them largely predictable in this day and age. In other words, you will likely have advanced warning if a natural disaster is coming for your area.
This can help you to know in advance what to do to be prepared, provided you are at least glancing at the daily news regarding the weather in your area.
After living in the country for nearly five years now, we’ve learned to never take the weather for granted. Weather is often unpredictable.
The tornado that hit our area was definitely NOT expected. Although the weather service was expecting severe storms, conditions weren’t ripe for a tornado and the two that hit our area within an hour’s time were simply unexpected “popups”: Popups that destroyed hundreds of trees and several buildings.
Because we’ve seen a few unexpecteds like this in terms of the weather out in the country here, we take rain, thunderstorms and snowstorms seriously.
We take the usual prepping measures such as pulling items that might blow away inside the garage or barn and getting all of the animals safely in a sheltered area, just in case a mild storm turns into a not-so-mild storm.
Taking prepping measures like these has helped our property and animals stay safe during these storms-gone-wild.
Financial Preparation for natural disasters
But we learned this last week from our friends in Texas how important it is to be financially prepared for a potential natural disaster. Although they weren’t hit directly by the storm, they are having to spend more money than usual on necessity spending, as well as dealing with some electrical issues.
Here are some ways you can prepare yourself financially should you find yourself facing the threat of a natural disaster such as a hurricane, blizzard or thunderstorm.
*Note: You’ll want to make these financial preparations NOW, as you never know when you’ll need them. Our friends living in Cali and other earthquake prone areas know that there is often little-to-no warning for disasters such as earthquakes, so prepare now, and you’ll be glad you did.
Preparation Step #1: Keep Legal Items and Contact Info Close at Hand
You’ll want to have quick access to both legal docs such as passports and birth certificates, and to contact information such as your insurance company’s phone number and numbers for the authorities such as police, fire and the Red Cross.
Keep all of this info in a place where you can find it quickly. Phone numbers should be stored in your wallet or purse as well as posted prominently, like on the fridge.
Birth certificates and passports should be super easily accessible so you can grab and go if you need to leave your house quickly.
The easier you can locate these items and have them safe and accessible, the less money (and time) you’ll need to spend on replacing them and on reaching authorities.
Preparation Step #2: Have a Plan in Place
Depending on the type of natural disaster you are facing, you’ll need to create a plan that helps you stay safe. Determine the answers to questions such as these BEFORE disaster hits:
- Will you hunker down at home or bail and go somewhere safer, such as to your cabin or to a loved one’s house?
- How will you and your family members meet up?
- Do you have a supply of food, water, snacks and other personal necessities?
- Is your gas tank full and ready to go if you need to leave?
Create a plan for each potential scenario in your area and be prepared to fund it. Also, keep some cash on hand at your home at all times. There is a good chance during a natural disaster that ATMs and banks will be out of commission and that stores (if they’re open) will only be able to accept cash.
Cash is especially helpful if you need to leave town and drive far away to get to safety.
Preparation Step #3: Be Prepared for Extra Expenses
One of the hurdles our friends in TX discovered is that even if you are not directly affected by a large scale disaster but in close proximity to one, you will likely have extra expenses.
Here are some examples:
- Power surges and outages destroy your appliances
- Gas, food and prices for other necessities rise, whether due to bona fide shortages or profit opportunities by less-than-ethical store owners
- Hotel costs, restaurant costs, etc. you may incur if you need to leave your home and don’t have loved ones you can stay with
- Repair costs for items damaged from the disaster
- Insurance deductible costs for damage directly to your home or property
These are often the types of expenses that people aren’t prepared for that can turn a natural disaster into a financial disaster very quickly.
The better prepared you are by having extra money around – both in your emergency fund and in cash on hand – the less these types of financial hindrances will hurt.
Financial Preparedness Brings Peace of Mind
Money certainly can’t solve all of the world’s problems, but as Rick and I have learned during our journey to debt freedom, the more financially prepared you are to handle these types of emergencies, the more peace you’ll have about knowing you can weather them without having to add a financial burden onto the situation as well.
Do yourself a favor and get financially prepared for whatever disasters may come your way.