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Reconstructing tax & other records after a natural disaster

4 things to do now as Hurricane Irma heads toward U.S.

Remember my post back in June noting that the Atlantic hurricane season was heating up? That's one of the few times I hated being right.

Parts of Texas are still flooded by Hurricane Harvey's deluge, but Mother Nature doesn't care. She's cooked up Harvey's angrier sister, Hurricane Irma, now a dangerous — potentially catastrophic, according to the National Hurricane Center's latest alert — Category 5 storm.

Hurricane-Irma_Rb_lalo-animated

Even worse than Irma's strength — her maximum sustained winds were at 180 miles per hour in the NHC's 11 a.m. ET report today — is her last forecast path that has her moving anywhere between South Florida and Cuba by Sunday, Sept. 10, morning.

Will Irma still have winds of at least 157 mph, the minimum to make Category 5 status when she makes landfall? And just where will that be?

I don't have answers to those questions. However, as I've noted repeatedly during my years of blogging, now is the time to get ready for the storm.

Here are 4 things to think about, and do, well before Irma is at your doorstep.

1. Stock up now so that you don't have to fight other frantic shoppers over the last loaf of bread or can of tuna or case of bottled water with a hurricane heading your way. Also top off your vehicle's gas tank, as stations likely will out of fuel or out of service for a while.

2. Make storm-related financial moves, like double checking your insurance coverage or getting a policy if you can. In most states, insurers won't issue a policy when a storm is nearing your location. Also do a pre-storm inventory, just in case you need the info to file an insurance claim. Also take out some cash, as power outages could make getting money from ATMs or using credit cards difficult. But do also have a credit card handy that has plenty of room for charges if you need to use it for a while to cover living costs after the storm has passed.

3. Gather prior tax forms. You could need that Internal Revenue Service filing data if you claim any storm losses on a tax return, either this year's Form 1040 or 2016's filing if Irma, like Harvey, causes enough damage to justify major disaster area declarations. In that latter case, you have the option to amend your prior year's return to get a potential tax refund sooner.

4. Evacuate if your state and local officials say to do so. In some cases, you can safely ride out a storm in your home. The hubby and I did so twice in 2004 as Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne came ashore in the area of South Florida where we lived back then. But Those were not Category 5 storms. if the storm is declared a major one — you'll still need to pay some upfront post-hurricane costs.

I know I blog about hurricanes a lot. Part of the reason is Frances and Jeanne. Go through even relatively mild 'canes like those, Categories 2 and 3 respectively, and you appreciate what the winds and rains can do.

That's why I put together the ol' blog's special Natural Disasters resource page. There you can find even more posts on ways to get ready for, recover from and help folks who are hit by hurricanes and other disasters.

You might want to check it out even if you're not in Irma's possible path. The National Hurricane Center just announced Tropical Storm Jose, the 10th 's named storm of the 2017 season, has formed in the Atlantic and, like Harvey and Irma, is heading west.

You also might find these items of interest:

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JOHN IN HOUSTON

Stocking up means more than bottled water and tuna fish. Supplies of almost everything will be out or scarce for awhile, even if the storm does not directly hit you as people take supplies to friends and family and local panic buying during continues for folks who did not adequately prepare. Bleach, toilet paper, duct tape, plastic sheeting, gas cans full, mosquito spray, bug spray for insects moving into your house, pet food and kitty litter; the list goes on and on for what you might need in the two or three weeks after the storm moves through. If you can afford to buy extra, your neighbor who did not plan ahead might appreciate you.

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