Working Through the Financial Impact of Natural Disasters
- September 23, 2022
- By: Greenpath Financial Wellness
Since 1980, the U.S. has sustained 285 weather and climate disasters where overall damages costs totaled or exceeded $1 billion. Nearly one in three Americans experienced a weather disaster since June 2021.
As residents in Florida and other states anticipate potentially dangerous weather, there is a risk that households will suffer personal loss as a result of the weather and climate events.
During weather threats, many families act to ensure their safety and wellbeing, recover treasured possessions and survive difficult living conditions.
Proactively managing your finances when a natural disaster occurs can help reduce stress induced by the unexpected event and mitigate long-term damage to your finances.
If you are facing an unexpected natural event or the continued challenges of ongoing national emergencies, here are tips to manage the financial impact of natural disasters and mitigate the financial stress these events can cause.
- Use cash and emergency funds to take care of immediate, essential needs – medicine, food/water, heat/electricity and housing. Utilize Child Tax Credit funds, other forms of COVID relief, loyalty and credit card rewards to cover expenses.
- Contact disasterassistance.gov, local and state agencies as well as nonprofit organizations for assistance. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), American Red Cross, United Way, Salvation Army, Veteran Affairs and local food banks may provide needed services.
- Be extra careful. Watch out for scams and fraud, which are an unfortunate part of disaster recovery.
- If you haven’t already, contact your insurance companies to file a claim as soon as you can. Whether it’s auto, home, fire or flood damage, your insurance company will help you take the necessary steps to make a claim. Use your smartphone to take photos and video of any damage and save the photos to a cloud-based account, so that you can make an inventory and prove damage. The sooner you file, the better – as insurers will face a significant number of claims.
- Contact your landlord, credit card and mortgage companies, and other creditors to request hardship assistance. If the disaster, such as a catastrophic weather event, affects your ability to make debt or housing payments on time, your creditors may offer forbearance, payment deferral, payment plans or waived fees. GreenPath counselors can join the call with your loan servicers and help you sort out the terms.
- Call your utility companies immediately, if you cannot live in your home due to damage. Utilities can put a stop hold on billing if you are not living in the home or not receiving utility services. By connecting with utility companies, you can ask about available relief programs and hardship assistance.
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Having a national nonprofit resource like GreenPath is critical during a time of challenge. We listen with respect, offer advice and information, and suggest options that could help you meet your needs.