Putting the pieces back together after a disaster–the first hours and days
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2013
A natural disaster can strike anywhere at any time, leaving in its
wake damage and destruction that affects the financial well-being of survivors.
You may be in disbelief, yet anxious to start to put the pieces back together.
You may not be able to return to your property until it is declared safe, but
you can take steps toward financial recovery.
Here are actions to take, depending on your situation, suggested by
Zach Kennedy, Extension Community and Economic Development Educator
your homeowners, flood, or rental insurance company of the loss. Tell them how
to best contact you for claims service. Report the loss even if you doubt the
loss will be covered. If you lost your insurance policy, request a copy.
* If you
have no place to stay and the shelter is full, you may be able to receive a
voucher for a hotel room from the local American Red Cross or Salvation Army.
If you have home owners or renters insurance, determine if you have coverage
for temporary housing.
feasible; contact employers to inform them of your situation and determine time
you may take off of work, if needed. Let your employer know how to best contact
* If an
employer notifies you that your place of employment was severely damaged or
destroyed and you cannot work; contact your state's unemployment insurance
office. Ask about eligibility for unemployment benefits.
injured or disabled, you may be eligible for disability insurance; contact your
* If you
have natural gas service; call the natural gas company for a safety inspection
before entering the home, or request a natural gas shut off for safety
purposes. Cancel the account until gas is needed.
* If the
electrical service is unsafe, do not enter. Call the electrical company to
disconnect service until repairs can be made and electricity is needed.
When authorities have determined that it's safe to re-enter your
property, assess damages and begin next steps. Document what you have done, with
whom you have spoken, actions to take, contact information, deadlines for
disaster assistance applications and appointments.
if there are other services to cancel for a period of time, such as phone,
softener salt delivery, cable television.
* If you
are going to be out of your home or rental unit, provide a change of address to
your post office. This will ensure that mail continues to be delivered to you.
your home mortgage company or your landlord of disaster damage to the property.
Tell them how to best contact you. If you have lost your rental or mortgage
agreement, request a copy.
* If you
have vehicle damage or loss, contact your auto insurance agent. Find out how
long it will take to process your claim. Ask if you have coverage for car
rental. Let the agent know how to best contact you. Request a copy of your
policy if missing.
* Do not
sign anything from insurance companies indicating that this is a final
interaction/payment to you, as other disaster-related damages may surface weeks
and months from now.
* If you
anticipate having difficulty paying bills, call your creditors and explain the
disaster loss. Arrange payment plans before you get an overdue notice.
will be required for property loss claims on homeowners and renters insurance,
to submit uncovered property losses for income tax purposes, and to verify the
need for assistance programs. Documentation should include: manufacturer,
model, serial number, age, value new, approximate current value and damage
receipts and record all expenses related to recovery or rebuild efforts. They
may be covered by insurance, assistance programs or deductible on taxes.
Remember receipts for lodging, clean-up supplies, eyeglasses replacement and
doctor bills related to disaster injury.
Find more educational
disaster recovery information on Extension's website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/disaster/after.cfm
or contact Mr. Kennedy at 217-333-7672