Natural-Disaster Preparedness Month is September, but with hurricane season starting on June 1, small businesses should prepare for extreme weather that could affect their livelihoods.
Weather and health-related natural disasters can leave property in tatters and wreak financial havoc on families and communities. Stearns Bank and the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) are advocating simple steps to help prepare for the worst and alleviate financial concerns ahead of a natural disaster or emergency.
“At Stearns Bank, we consider it our civic duty to be prepared and resilient in the face of the unknown,” said Jane Litchy, Vice President/Regional Branch Manager at Stearns Bank. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors and community — helping them plan for the unexpected so they can focus on the recovery and rebuilding process and reclaim their financial wherewithal following a natural disaster.”
ICBA and Stearns Bank offer the following tips to help consumers plan for the unexpected and regain their financial footing after a crisis.
- Prepare backup communications plans if both cellular and landline services falter.
- Store digital and paper copies of critical documents in a safe deposit box. These include a driver’s license, passport, military ID, bank and investment account information, proof of occupancy, a mortgage deed, insurance policies, and three years of tax returns.
- Make copies of personal documents — marriage license, birth certificates, adoption papers —for safekeeping and alert a relative, trustee, or attorney of their location.
- Print contact information for trustees, guardians, and executors and store them away for safe keeping.
- 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, to determine if you need a flood insurance policy. FEMA also offers a guide with checklists to help prepare for emergencies and natural disasters.
“Community bankers are there for their customers and communities through all challenges,” said ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey. “As a trusted financial advisor, your community banker can help evaluate financial preparedness before these unexpected, stressful events occur to help protect you and your loved ones from the long-term effects of these unplanned emergencies and jumpstart your financial recovery.”
Disasters are learning opportunities. Instead of burying your head in the sand, think about which strategies worked well in the face of disaster, including the policies that protected employees or tempered your financial losses. Then, find the areas where you weren’t prepared and ask yourself what you could have done to change the outcome.
For more information on crisis preparedness, visit ICBA’s website at www.icba.org/news/crisis-preparedness.