Washington, D.C. (Sept. 12, 2018) — Hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires can destroy property and wreak financial havoc on families and communities. As Hurricane Florence approaches the United States and Americans recognize National Preparedness Month in September, the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) and the nation’s community banks remind consumers that they can help alleviate financial concerns by planning in advance of a natural disaster or emergency.
“Natural disasters prompt people to take stock of what they have and what they have lost,” said ICBA Chairman Tim Zimmerman, CEO of Standard Bank in Monroeville, Pa. “Your local community bank can work with you on evaluating your financial preparedness prior to these unexpected, stressful events and help protect you and your loved ones from the long-term effects of lost, damaged or destroyed financial documents.”
ICBA offers the following tips to help consumers prepare and recover from a natural disaster.
- Prepare backup communications plans if both cellular and landline service fail. You may want to be fully informed ahead of time of your cellular and satellite communications options.
- Store digital and paper copies of critical documents in a safe deposit box. These include a driver’s license, passport or military ID, bank and investment account information, proof of occupancy, a mortgage deed, insurance policies and three years of tax returns. Consider placing these items in a waterproof bag.
- Make additional copies of personal documents—marriage license, birth certificates, adoption papers—for safekeeping and alert a relative, trustee or attorney of their location.
- Print out contact information for trustees, guardians and executors and store it in a safe deposit box or give a copy to a trusted family member or friend.
- Create an inventory of personal and household valuables and use photo or video documentation to help assess their value and determine replacement costs.
- Contact your insurance agent or visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s(FEMA) website, www.fema.gov, to determine if you need a flood insurance policy. FEMA also offers a guide with checklists to help prepare for emergencies and natural disasters.
“Customers can rely on their neighborhood bank to provide critical resources and assistance for weather-related preparation and recovery,” said Zimmerman. “It’s the community banking way.”