The coming of March brings to mind spring, college hoops, and the annual St. Paddy’s Day festivities on Greenville Avenue. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when severe weather can rage across North Texas. We’ve all seen what kind of damage high winds, tornados, lightning, large hail and flooding can do. As Realtors, we know how long it can take to recover when disaster strikes. Want our advice? Take some time this weekend to prepare before severe weather season kicks into high gear.
First, create an emergency preparedness kit and evacuation plan for your household. At the very least, make sure you know where your flashlights are and that the batteries in them are fresh. Have a supply of emergency candles and waterproof matches ready, too. Better yet, go online and find a list of all of the supplies you should have ready in case of emergency. One of the best resources around is the list available on the Department of Homeland Security’s ready.gov/kit.
Make sure you understand how your insurance claims process works, so you can quickly get your life and home back to normal. Call your agent before there is an issue to get an understanding of what to do if disaster strikes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your agent wants you to know the process so if something does happen, you can be prepared.
Aside from the immediate emergencies like food, medicine and shelter, probably the most heartbreaking part of recovering from a disaster is the financial crisis that so often follows. It’s the problems of losing immediate access to money and identity that linger longest and cause the most stress. Having a disaster plan to handle finances and identity recovery is absolutely critical. Start by making a copy of everything in your wallet, as well as birth certificates, passports, social security cards and other vital documents. Make a list of all of your bills, such as health, car and home owners insurance, mortgage, and auto loans. Include account numbers, customer service number and address on your list. Take pictures of your property before a disaster. Include valuables. Store all of this information on a pair of memory sticks. Keep one in a waterproof, fire safe box you can grab and take with you in an emergency. Put the other in a bank vault or give to a trusted family member in another location. Make sure someone else knows that it exists. Ensure you have online access available to banking and investment accounts, and make sure someone else knows about them as well.
There’s a very good chance that the most you’ll ever need is a pair of flashlights and a safe place to shelter from a strong hail storm. Let’s hope so. Experience has shown, however, that it’s far better to be prepared to get through a disaster than be caught in one only to get stuck in the nightmare.
The MetroTex Association of REALTORS is the largest professional real estate association in North Texas. Comprised of more than 18,000 real estate professionals, MetroTex is celebrating 100 years of service to the community in 2017. To connect with a MetroTex Realtor, or to find information about buying, leasing, or selling a home in North Texas, visit dfwrealestate.com.