Summer is here, and hurricane season is fast approaching in the Atlantic.
In recent years, tropical storm events that hit land are stronger and taking longer to dissipate than they did in the past. In addition to the Bahamas and North Carolina, it should come at so surprise that Florida is also considered a “Hurricane Hub” with reports showing that approximately 40% of all hurricanes impact the sunshine state. In 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall as a category 3 hurricane and was labelled as the deadliest storm to hit Florida in the last 3 decades. The following year, Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida panhandle when it made landfall as category 5 hurricane causing more than $18 billion dollars in damages.
With this is mind, it goes without saying that it is paramount to pay close attention to the news and heed warning messages from your local authorities. But in addition to preparing an evacuation plan and putting together an emergency kit, you need to get your financial house in order. Don’t wait until a hurricane warning is in effect. The financial impact of a hurricane can be devastating if you are not prepared but we’ve got a few tips to help you this season.
How to Be Financially Prepared for a Hurricane
Resilience to natural disasters starts with financial preparedness. Here are some pre-storm measures along with a hurricane season checklist to help you batten down your financial hatches.
1. Build an Emergency Fund
Create a budget for disaster-related expenses such as lodging, transport, and food, and save toward it. At minimum, the fund should cover an entire week’s worth of expenses for your household. An emergency fund like this, is the best buffer you can have from financial crisis in the case of an unexpected disaster, such as a hurricane. Setting just a few dollars aside every week will help you save over time. Checking and savings programs, designed with targeted goals in mind to help you build your savings, are also great ways to stow away extra cash for an emergency.
2. Keep Some Cash Handy
Although your money is much safer in a federally insured banking institution, it’s a good idea to have some cash handy in the event that you need to evacuate quickly. Most ATMs are inoperable immediately after a storm surge, and you’ll need money for fuel and supplies.
It's also a good idea to set up a credit card just for emergencies. Making purchases on a credit card will help you keep record of disaster-related expenses that your homeowners' insurance may be able to reimburse.
3. Flood-Proof Important Papers and Information
Keep critical financial documents safe and protected in a weatherproof, “grab and go” kit. Here is a list of documents you should have ready and keep safe.
- Copy of your driver’s license (front and back)
- Birth certificate with raised seal
- Social security cards
- Child identification cards
- Military ID or discharge papers
- Proof of pet ownership
- Deed to home
- Property tax information
- Car ownership documents
- Government benefits
- Power of attorney
- Will/estate information/living will
- Insurance policies
- Financial accounts
- Financial obligations
- Copy of medical insurance/Medicare cards
- Doctor’s names and numbers
- List of medications and pharmacy number
- List of allergies
- Insurance Agent telephone number
No matter how prepared you are, hard copy documents are always at risk and may not survive a heavy storm. Taking extra measures to make electronic backup copies of these documents, will help you collect and secure you financial information in the event of a natural disaster as long as it’s stored on a password-protected cloud storage device.
4. Set Up Electronic Deposits
In addition to downed power lines, flooding and other debris, Hurricanes are known to disrupt mail delivery services for weeks. Setting up your benefits electronically such as using Mobile Deposit, Direct Deposit, Online Bill Pay, and switching to Online/Mobile Banking with eStatements, will ensure that you have access to your money and help you weather the storm.
Work with Your Financial Institution
It is essential to prepare for a hurricane well before it's announced for your safety and that of your family. Precautionary financial measures can temper the ravages of a storm. If you have questions, we are here to help! Don’t hesitate to reach out and inquire about the measures you can take to be money-ready and get financially ahead of hurricane season this year!