Preparing for a Disaster

by Charles Holland, County Engagement Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension.

The weather this year has been one for the record books. Flooding is prevalent in every corner of our state. With this in mind, what have you done to prepare in case of disaster?
One item that many don’t think about is to create a backup for your important computer files, whether this is a cloud system back up or keeping everything on a flash drive. If the flash drive is in the same location as your computer, your backup is not complete. Having the computer and the backup in different locations lessens your chances of losing everything. The best plan is to keep a hard copy of important documents, update information monthly, and keep it somewhere secure such as a safe deposit box at a local bank. The same rule applies to businesses as well. It is a good idea to keep a list of important numbers such as creditors and account numbers with the hard copy as well as insurance papers. For businesses, other important information would include a vendor and customer list. The people who get quick assistance in disasters are the ones who have their documentation and a copy of their records where they are easily accessible.
Another helpful document to have in an emergency is an inventory. Your insurance company has forms they can provide you that will advise you to write down the items you possess and take snapshots of the rooms to make it easier when a disaster strikes. The federal and state governments also have helpful documents with worksheets and tips on how to prepare. You can search the fema.gov for such materials as well as extension.missouri.edu and the sba.gov.
Keeping track of financial information is critical to a quick recovery. Especially in our electronic age, many people do not have paper access to their accounts, account balances, bank statements or credit card information. It is possible that your banking information could be unavailable for an extended period of time following a disaster. Keeping records updated and in a separate location can help you to reestablish yourself after a disaster.
When you are thinking about what you would need to be prepared for a disaster, do not just think in terms of water and canned goods, but also think about what you need to function from day to day. For more information or help, please call your local University of Missouri-Extension Office. We can help you to ‘Be Prepared.”
This article was written by Charles Holland, County Engagement Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension. Please feel free to contact Charles with questions. Charles can be contacted at hollandca@missouri.edu or the Monroe County office at 660-327-4158.