Hurricane Sandy has pounded the east coast, leaving millions without power. Some have lost homes, and even a whole neighborhood was burned to the ground. As the damage continues and the cleanup begins, you need to take some important steps to ensure that this natural disaster does not become a financial disaster for you and your family. You may be forced to relocate, and keeping important documents and financial information organized will be extremely important.
Learning from Hurricane Katrina
After Hurricane Katrina, Nick and his family moved from New Orleans to Atlanta. They were misplaced for nine months. This easily could have caused a financial disaster for his family, but his mother and father were well prepared. Check out this informative video about Nick and his family here. Also, if you were affected by Hurricane Sandy, look at these tips to help you move forward and avoid financial disaster:
If Hurricane Sandy forces you to relocate, even temporarily, you will need to be organized. You need to have copies of important identification. This includes you and your family’s driver’s licenses, passports, social security cards, birth certificates, and other records. Having these documents is important for applying for aid from FEMA and can also make insurance claims go through faster.
Access to Funds
Make sure you have your ATM or debit cards, your check book, and whatever cash is available to you. Nick’s mother kept track of her ATM card and used this to withdraw funds regularly. She was also able to continue receiving social security checks because she had these direct deposited and didn’t have to worry about getting a check in the mail. This meant that when she relocated she continued to have access to money. Without planning ahead and staying organized, she and her family may have faced an even greater challenge.
Have Emergency Savings
Having an emergency fund in place will go a long way to helping you and your family prepare for disaster. Clearpoint counselor Jerry Cruthis discusses how to create an emergency fund here. Even if you don’t have a lot of emergency savings, try to avoid taking out more debt in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Communicate with Creditors
Some debtors will make concessions in the event of an emergency, but you have to be proactive and persistent. Call your creditors as soon as you can and let them know your particular situation. If they do not offer help, try calling at a different time of day and keep calling until you get a positive response. If Hurricane Sandy forces you to relocate, make sure to change your address with your debtors as soon as possible. Just because your bill does not get to you does not mean that you are not responsible for paying it.
Don’t fall for scams
Unfortunately, disasters bring out scam artists ready to prey on vulnerable victims. To ensure that you are not a victim of a scam, refrain from giving any personal financial information to someone who solicits you, research and get bids before paying for any repairs, and ask for written guarantees. With many people still experiencing unemployment, there will likely be an influx of workers coming to the Northeast to help with Hurricane Sandy recovery. Make sure to use caution when dealing with out of town businesses. As in any financial transaction, keep in mind that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Hurricane Sandy’s impact has been widespread, and this disaster will have lingering effects on many communities and families. The effects of natural disaster are devastating enough; don’t let this event bring a financial disaster too. For more help with credit, debt, or money management topics, contact Clearpoint at 877-877-1995.