Paycheck Chronicles

Have a List of What to Do If Natural Disaster Strikes

Tornado

It's that time of year again, when our thoughts turn to spring, love, and tornadoes & hurricanes!

If you're a homeowner you know all about worrying when the weather gets dicey. Will that maple tree finally come down on my neighbor's deck, will my basement flood, will my roof blow off?

Well, what do you do if the unthinkable happens? What if your home is totally destroyed?

The bank will still want their mortgage payment on time, even if the house isn't there anymore. It is your responsibility to contact the mortgage issuer and make arrangements.

There are also other people to contact, and you should contact them quickly if you want to have a roof over your head anytime soon and avoid financial hassles.The VA has come out with a list and we added a few items to it. While not inclusive, the list is a good starting point of what you need to do to protect yourself from even more stress and hassles down the road when emergency strikes:

  1. Contact FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) - Begin the disaster application process online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800‐621‐3362. In order to receive the maximum assistance, you must register with FEMA before their deadline expires. Additional support, including low‐interest loans, cash grants, and housing assistance may be available from agencies associated with the disaster recovery effort. For more information, go to www.fema.gov.
  2. Contact Your Mortgage Company - You are responsible for making regular monthly loan payments, even if your home is not habitable, so contact your lender as soon as possible regarding your loss. If you are unable to make payments on time, you should discuss forbearance or a loan modification. Also have your lender explain procedures for insurance loss checks, repairs to your property, payments to contractors, etc.
  3. Contact Your Insurance Company -  File an insurance claim as soon as possible; however, do not make a hasty settlement on insurance. When the property is damaged but repairable, attempt to get your local engineer’s office to inspect your home for structural damage. If possible, get at least two estimates from licensed contractors for cost of repairs or rebuilding. Insurance checks for personal property and living expenses should be payable to you only. Checks for damage to your home should be payable to both you and your mortgage company.
  4. Check Other Sources for Assistance - Contact local offices of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) or other veterans’ organizations to see if special assistance may be available, even to non‐members of the organization. Also check out the Red Cross or church charities. Some military support organizations such as Navy & Marine Corps Relief Society, Army Emergency Relief, Air Force Aid, etc. may also be able to either offer assistance or point you in the right direction. 
  5. Contact Utility Companies - Don't forget to contact your utility companies as soon as possible. You don't want to be paying a $200 cable & internet bill for six months if your house isn't there anymore. If you don't contact them, you are still liable for the bill.
  6. Be Wary of Unsolicited Repair Offers - If some guy in a pickup truck comes by and offers to fix your roof for a fraction of the price that other companies are charging you should probably say "no thanks". This is a major problem that happens during every natural disaster, fly-by-night repair companies offer their services for cheap prices, often wanting cash up front, and the homeowner never sees them, or their cash, again. 

Hopefully this list will help you start thinking about what you would do if disaster strikes and making your own plan. Here's hoping you will never have to use that plan!

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