FEMA administrator: ‘Don’t be a disaster financial casualty’

Composite image. File photo shows water flooding Dammeron Valley after a severe rainstorm, Washington County, Utah, July 12, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Utahna Kent, St. George News

OPINION — September is National Preparedness Month. It is a chance for each of us to learn the risks that we face and to take steps to protect ourselves, our families and our property.

We often view those risks as natural or man-made hazards, like flooding, tornadoes or even acts of terror and act accordingly. We create family evacuation plans, put together survival kits, protect important documents and maintain a greater awareness of our surroundings.

Read more: Being prepared: How you can take action to reduce fear of natural disasters 

All of those actions are important. Unfortunately, too often we don’t take the next step and look at how all of those hazards we face could impact us financially. Natural disasters and other hazards can have the initial effect of damaging homes and property – or worse, causing harm to individuals.

But for those who were not prepared, the financial distress faced in recovery can be long lasting. For businesses, that can mean closure, for individuals it can mean delayed retirement, downsized living arrangements and dreams unfulfilled.

Those dire results don’t have to become a reality though. Individuals and businesses can defend themselves against the financial impacts of disasters. Three areas you can look at while building toward financial preparedness are insurance, savings and planning. Strengthening these three areas will benefit you against misfortune, large or small.

Insurance: your first line of defense

Talk with your insurance agent to make sure that your existing coverage is enough to protect yourself, family and business. Too many Americans are uninsured or underinsured. Also, be aware of the hazards you face as some may not be obvious. Additional insurance may be required for some hazards like earthquakes or flooding. Having the right insurance coverage will speed your road to recovery.

‘Rainy day’ fund for rainy days

In addition to having the right insurance, it’s also beneficial to have a “rainy day” fund you can tap when needed for emergencies. Having a savings cushion allows you to deal with immediate needs that may occur before insurance proceeds arrive or pay for needs not covered by insurance. However, dealing with the realities of life and a wallet that is already stretched thin can make building a savings fund a challenge.

The Financial First Aid Kit

That leads us into the final element: planning.

FEMA and Operation Hope have developed an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit to help in the effort. The kit has checklists of important documents to maintain as well as other resources to help you become financially prepared. You can find the kit and other helpful resources here.

If we all take the right preparations steps now, we can ensure that our families, businesses and communities are able to more quickly recover from any type of disaster.

Submitted by LEE dePALO, regional administrator for FEMA Region VIII, which serves Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming, along with the 28 federally recognized Tribal Nations located within those states.

Opinion pieces are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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  • Brian September 28, 2018 at 11:56 am

    I think every lot / home / business in the US should get to be bailed out (literally) by US taxpayers a maximum of one time. If your home gets destroyed in a flood, tornado, earthquake, hurricane, etc and you get taxpayer money you can choose: rebuild or move. If you choose to rebuild, that’s the only time taxpayer money will go to that for that property, ever. When you go to sell the property it basically has a “salvage title” just like a car damaged in a flood, and the new homeowner knows they’re buying a property that has been damaged by a natural disaster before AND that they will never get a taxpayer bailout on that property.

    I have no problem helping out someone in need. I have a major problem with taxpayer dollars being used to subsidize and rebuild multi-million dollar properties built on beaches, flood planes, riverbanks, and other places that are known to be high risk, and where insurance companies run the numbers and say “no thanks”, but then the government repeatedly hands out money to rebuild after a totally predictable tragedy. There’s a reason a lot of the homes on beaches and river banks were just shacks: they were built to be disposable. But the government takes away the downside and now we have massive homes, hotels, casinos, etc that get rebuilt again and again.

    As a taxpayer I’m sick of subsidizing stupidity as our nation goes broke and there will be nothing but debt to pass on to our kids and grandkids.

    • Carpe Diem September 28, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Yeah Brian, but the main problem is that we’ve been subsidizing the entire WORLD’s disasters too.

  • mmsandie September 28, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    I agree with the first response, but I will not as a taxpayer keep paying to replace Sand on eroded beaches and expensive homes built in flood planes etc.. move people or get insurance and pay for your own home ..
    I can see helping people in third world countries but our people should be more educated and help themselves.. when people say it will never happen to them. , it could and be prepared.. when the people are told to leave their homes and don,5 why should rescuers risk their lives to help people who don’t listen to warnings.

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