Disaster Feed

Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall Sunday evening in Louisiana. Even though it quickly weakened to a tropical depression, it still is dumping copious amounts of rain across the Pelican State. The potential for flooding was part of the reason that the White House on Sunday, June 7, issued a federal disaster declaration for Louisiana. That decision allows the federal government to help pick up some of the state's disaster response costs. It also will give those who sustained Cristobal-related damages a chance to claim those losses on their taxes. Major disasters only need apply: Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs... Read more →


June has arrived. But the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on our lives, including our tax lives, mean that in 2020 we likely won't be able to enjoy our usual summertime living is easy lifestyles. (Photo courtesy City of Clearwater, Florida) Hello weird, scary, frustrating June 2020. We're sort of glad you're here, even though the coronavirus means many of us aren't going to be taking a summer vacation and many more of us will still be messing with 2019 taxes until mid-July. Yep, as everyone knows by now, COVID-19 precautions by the Internal Revenue Service have pushed this year's... Read more →


It's the last weekend of May. You know what that means. Hurricane season is about to officially start. Of course, Mother Nature doesn't follow the calendars of mere humans. She does what she wants when she wants. And so far this late spring, early summer of 2020, she's thrown a couple of tropical tantrums. We've already had two named tropical storms, Arthur and Bertha. Arthur threatened the North Carolina coast before heading out to sea. Bertha is now washing out as a tropical depression, dropping heavy rain over South Carolina. Plan ahead for storms: But the Atlantic hurricane season, which... Read more →


If there's anything positive in this COVID-19 pandemic (yeah, I'm grasping), it's that folks have stocked up on necessities. That's good for those who live in potential hurricane targets. And it's especially fortuitous since, for sixth consecutive year, the Atlantic tropical storm season has started early. A tropical depression formed on Saturday, May 16, afternoon. By nightfall, it had strengthened enough to become Tropical Storm Arthur, the first named storm of 2020. The hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 each year, but as we all know, Mother Nature often ignores us humans. The best we can... Read more →


April is winding down. That means severe, and some deadly, spring storms are erupting all over the United States. And in just more than a month, hurricane season will officially start. A couple of states — Alabama and Texas — earlier this year offered their residents a sales tax holiday so they could save some money as they stocked up on emergency supplies. But even if you have to pay tax on your bottled water and canned food and batteries, start gathering your supplies now. Also take a pre-disaster inventory of your property. A full, accurate list of your belongings... Read more →


Even in the midst of a global pandemic, some things must go on. Like state sales tax holidays. Missouri's annual Show Me Green Sales Tax Holiday, a week of tax breaks on energy efficient appliances, began April 19 and runs through April 25. As the Show Me State's first sales tax holiday of 2020 winds down, Texas' usual spring emergency supplies tax-free event kicks off. It runs April 25 through April 27. Show me shopping where: Missouri residents who need new appliances could save if they opt to purchase Energy Star certified items. The state's 4.225 percent sales tax won't... Read more →


Image: Mark Knoller, CBS correspondent, via Twitter Donald Trump visited tornado-ravaged areas of Tennessee on March 6. While such visits and shows of support are important, the White House's major disaster declaration the day before was critical. It allowed the federal agencies to start helping Volunteer State residents who sustained losses with their physical recovery efforts. That started with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) listing the areas that are eligible for help. Right now, that's three counties — Davidson, Putnam and Wilson. But damage assessments are continuing. Don't be surprised to see more counties and additional types of FEMA... Read more →


Photo: Nashville Metro Police Department via Twitter Spring storm season came early and with a vengeance to the southern United States last night. At least 25 people lost their lives when a tornado roared through the Nashville area early today. Tornado sirens started sounding around 2 a.m. Central Time on March 3. By the time the twister completed its rampage, it had become Tennessee's second-deadliest March tornado. More than 150 were injured. Residents and officials are still assessing property damage. Volunteer State residents are living their home's motto today, as they not only work through their losses, but also helping... Read more →


CNN forecast screenshot I thought I'd have a couple of months before I had to worry, or post, about severe weather, but Mother Nature today is in a proper snit. The official National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has for days been talking about upper level lows and Gulf of Mexico air masses. I prefer the description by Texas songwriter/singer Terry Allen in The Lubbock Tornado (I Don't Know): "But when a high-pressure zone hits a low, somethin' gotta give, yeah somethin' gotta go." That's why folks from down here in Central Texas to the Midwest, upper and otherwise, to... Read more →


The individual tax filing season doesn't officially open until Jan. 27, but you're ready to file your taxes. Or are you? Tax filing, whether you do it yourself via tax software that you buy, use online or access via Free File or hand off the annual task to a tax pro, requires its own specific preparation. You've got to have all your tax-related documentation before you can start filling out that Form 1040. Here's a checklist of forms and documents you'll need to complete your taxes, as well as a look at tax situations you need to consider before filing.... Read more →


Congress played Santa this week, averting a government shutdown and approving a wide variety of anticipated tax breaks. Merry Christmas U.S. taxpayers. H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, is now law. In a surprise move earlier this month, House and Senate negotiators cobbled together a massive bill that not only, as the name indicates, assures that the federal government stays open, but which also included some long-awaited (at least by those who will benefit) expired tax provisions. In addition, lawmakers corrected — and by corrected, I mean repealed — some obvious — and by obvious, I mean universally... Read more →


These West Texas cattle don't appear worried about much. Their owners, however, have a lot of concerns, including severe weather that could hurt their agribusiness operation. In the case of drought, they might get some tax relief. (Photo by Kay Bell) "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it," observed Hartford Courant editor Charles Dudley Warner back in the late 1800s. More than a century later, that meteorological quip is still applicable. Long-time readers know I'm one of the guilty weather complainers. Heck, I do it so much that it's earned its own category on the ol'... Read more →


A walk along Long Bay in the British Virgin Islands (Photo courtesy Long Bay Beach Club Resort) The first Caribbean vacation the hubby and I took was to the British Virgin Islands (BVI). We had a lovely suite on a hillside overlooking Long Bay. The beaches were fantastic, the weather was ideal, the food superb and we — and by we, I mean the hubby — got in some scuba diving during a day-sail trip. I saw that barracuda in the water and opted to stay on deck. Since then, we've hit a few other island getaway spots, but BVI... Read more →


Nestor, show in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite image above as it gathered steam yesterday (Oct. 18) in the Gulf of Mexico, moved today closer to the Florida panhandle. The good news is that Nestor is now a post-tropical storm. That designation change, however, doesn't mean this 14th named storm of the 2019 hurricane season is harmless. As Nestor moves inland across the southeastern United States, it is projected to bring heavy rains and associated flooding, coastal surges and severe thunderstorms, some with tornadoes. Meanwhile, in the northeastern part of the county, a large bomb cyclone wreaked havoc.... Read more →


You've now got one week, until next Tuesday, Oct. 15, to file your 2018 Form 1040 that you extended earlier this year. During these next seven days, you need to at least get a start on that return. The deadline will be here before you know it. And this time, there's no more time. Here are 9 tips and reminders to help you get that 1040 on its way to the IRS by next week. 1. Gather all your tax material. By now you should have every document you need to file your taxes. Double check. Now. There's no give... Read more →


Flooding along I-10 in the Port Arthur, Texas, area due to Tropical Storm Imelda's excessive rain. (Photo by Jefferson County Sheriff's Office via Twitter) Coastal and East Texas is flashing back to 2017. That year, major Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston. Many parts of Space City and the Gulf Coast are still recovering. Now it's Tropical Storm Imelda, which now has devolved into a depression, that has dropped way too much rain on the area. At least five people have died and the southeastern part of the Lone Star State is facing record-setting flooding. Google Maps Using nest egg to make... Read more →


What's worse than losing your home to a disaster? Having to pay taxes on the destroyed property. That's what a Southwestern Pennsylvania family is dealing with now. After losing their home and all its contents to a fire last November, Rich and Catherine Hooks recently learned that they are responsible for the 2019 property taxes due on their no long in existence Westmoreland County home. "The taxes should be lower because the house isn't there," Mrs. Hooks told TribLive.com. But the county tax assessor didn't know that. So the prior tax valuation stood. When a significant change occurs on a... Read more →


Some of the devastation facing Bahamians following Hurricane Dorian's direct hit on the islands. (Photo courtesy Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance via Facebook) Hurricane Dorian is still traveling up North America's eastern coastline, but it did its most damage on Sept. 2 when it made landfall as a Category 5 storm in The Bahamas. More than 40 people were killed and that toll is expected to rise. At least 70,000 people are homeless. Early estimates of property damage are around $7 billion in losses. Concerned people are looking for ways to help the residents of the island nation. This... Read more →


September usually is a welcome month. The summer's hot temperatures finally moderate as the official start of fall nears. Parents and children get their routines back as school is in session. Then there's the reason why usually comes into play as far as September's arrival. It's traditionally the most active month of the annual hurricane season. Nobody wants to see that. We'll have to wait a few more weeks to see if that holds for 2019, but September's start is ominous. Hurricane Dorian, which already has smashed all sorts of intensity records, is stalking Florida as I type. If forecasts... Read more →


You've secured your house. You've got your go-bag ready if you have to evacuate. You've taken all the other steps to get ready for an impending natural disaster. Or have you? Don't forget about your pets. During recent floods in the Midwest, Reuters reported that hundreds of pets were lost or imperiled by floodwaters. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, an estimated 15,000 animals had to be rescued, according to CNN. "It's a tragedy we've seen too many times: pets stuck in shelters, or worse, because their owners had no place to take them, or homeowners who feel trapped in a... Read more →