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Time to make disaster preparations

Arthur_2008_tropical_storm_060108_2 It's here. The start of Hurricane Season 2008.

Despite my hopes that it will be a calm storm season, as the last two were for the U.S. anyway, it looks like Mother Nature's crappy mood, already exhibited by her  whacking of us this year via cyclones, earthquakes, wildfires and tornadoes, will continue into the summer.

Yesterday, a day before the official start of the June 1 through Nov. 30 hurricane season, Tropical Storm Arthur formed off Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.

Now forecasters will be the first to tell us that an early start doesn't necessarily mean an over-active hurricane season.

But they also are quick to point out that it just takes one storm to make landfall and wreak havoc.

Get ready, now! So since we can't stop 'em, it's time to prepare for 'em, well before any tropical storm or hurricane is actually heading for our homes.

Hurricane preparation is more than simply stockpiling nonperishable food or buying a gas- or propane-fueled generator. The National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center (NHC)  says any disaster prevention plan should include:

Special attention to finances: While the NHC's list of items for your disaster supply kit primarily covers materials you'll need to physically make it through a storm and its aftermath, I want to emphasize the importance of creating a financial disaster kit, too.

This means getting enough cash out of the ATM in advance of the storm and ensuing power outages. With no electricity, access to your money is impossible.

Make sure you also break up those $20 that the ATM spits out. Any businesses that are able to open after a storm aren't likely to be keen on making change.

And make sure you have at least one credit card that has a sufficient credit balance to see you through possible weeks of having to charge purchases.

Also put in your storm-proof container insurance policies (health, home,  auto), medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, and any other financial documents you have on hand. In fact, make copies of all this stuff and then put your originals in a safety deposit box or send to a trusted relative who lives outside the storm strike zone.

If your information is stored on your computer, be sure to download it to a CD or flash drive.

Also take photos, either Polaroids or digital, of your home, auto and other property before the storm hits. That will make claim filing easier and should help you answer any questions your insurance company might have.

Taxes, too: And don't forget to put copies of tax records in your financial disaster kit.

1040aez_tax_forms_2 Although taxes won't be on the top of your list after a catastrophe, remember that if you are in a presidentially declared disaster area, you have tax filing or return amending options that could get you some additional money, as discussed in this previous blog posting, from Uncle Sam.

Such preparation is easier to do for hurricanes, since you typically get more advance notice of any impending storm. But regardless of where you live, you should have a financial disaster kit on hand in an easy-to-grab container (even a giant Baggie will work) that you can take to the safe place you head to as an escape from Mother Nature's fury.

Here's hoping you don't ever need to use the kit's information. But the plethora of tornadoes, the tragedies in China and Myanmar and the early arrival of Arthur (now thankfully fading) underscore just how important it is to be fully prepared for any disaster before it hits.   


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Thanks for the loading heads up. I did move it as you suggested. Another widget also was slow; just took it down. Need to clear clutter anyway!


The downside of back-to-back calm topical storm seasons is that the southeast is suffering through a pretty brutal drought. At one point last fall, Atlanta's drinking was being measured in days (roughly 60). This spring has been a bit better, though, so hopefully it's breaking.

P.S. Your site is loading incredibly slow. It appears to be the Quantcast thingy at the end of your left sidebar. If you need to keep it, can you at least move it to the footer or something so we don't have to wait forever for the content? (The left sidebar apparently has to load completely before the center content will render.)

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