In the wake of recent weather, the importance of planning and preparing for a natural disaster has become paramount.

Sweltering heat and unpredictable storms have plagued the nation this past year and show no signs of letting up. Tornadoes have leveled flourishing small towns, and torrential rain has flooded the streets of our most popular metropolitan areas. In fact, FEMA reported 46 total disaster declarations in 2016, and that number may very well rise this year.

Save yourself time and stress by being proactive and having a plan of action in case a disaster strikes.

 

Here’s what paperwork you should have handy in the event of an emergency: 

  • Financial statements and account numbers, including that of your emergency savings fund
  • Mortgage documents or rental/lease agreements
  • Copies of prescriptions for medications and key identification papers (driver’s licenses, passports, birth certificates, and Social Security cards)
  • Updated homeowners, renters, and automobile insurance policies
  • Tax records

Keep these documents safe and in close proximity. Store them in a safe deposit box or a sealed plastic bag. Receiving assistance after a natural disaster often requires the above paperwork or proof of identity. FEMA, a resource for disaster-stricken individuals, outlines how you can recover lost personal documents.

 

It is also recommended to have a disaster supply kit that includes: 

  • Water and at least three days’ worth of food
  • A first aid kit with extra over-the-counter and prescription medications
  • Tools and supplies such as a flashlight and manual can opener
  • Hygiene and cleaning products
  • Miscellaneous items such as blankets and plastic utensils

 

Financial relief after a disaster may come in the form of amending a previous tax return to take advantage of tax breaks and casualty loss deductions. To accurately deduct repair and replacement costs, consult with a tax professional. At no charge, you can amend your federal tax return for casualty losses with Liberty Tax Service. We have always offered these amendments for free, but we want to remind those who are facing astronomical hardships that we are here to help.

The Red Cross’ website has more information on what you can do to prepare for possible disasters. To help those who have been affected by disasters or to see if you are in a tax relief area, check out the IRS website.

When disaster strikes, many franchisees in the affected regions open their offices as collection points for donations such as:

 

  • Clean clothing and shoes of all sizes
  • Toiletries, including shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, and toothbrushes
  • Clean blankets
  • Baby diapers and baby wipes
  • Pantry staples such as cereals and non-perishable food items
  • Water

 

Those who would like to donate these much-needed items can find their nearest Liberty Tax location by calling 1-866-871-1040. Any help you can provide during a disaster emergency will be greatly appreciated.