Be Prepared

Richard Connor

I’M WRITING THIS a few days after Hurricane Ida ravaged parts of our country. We were lucky. Our home here on the South Jersey coast was spared from all but minor rainfall. Much of Pennsylvania and North Jersey saw enormous amounts of rain, flooding and tornadoes. In my 64 years living in this region, I don’t recall there ever being this much severe weather, especially the number of tornadoes.

Prior to the hurricane landing in Louisiana, I read a Twitter thread by New Orleans resident and financial planner Jude Boudreaux. His Twitter thread talked about what it was like to live in a region about to be hit by a major hurricane, what to do and what goes through your mind. It’s a sobering read. He said that Hurricane Katrina changed many local people’s thinking about the seriousness of major storms and how best to prepare. Hurricane Sandy did that in my area of the country. Ida will reinforce this in both regions.

Now that I live at the beach, this event made me realize that we need a preparedness plan. One of the first things you want to do is assess the types of emergency you might experience. Do you live in an area prone to, say, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires or frequent power outages? Research what the experts recommend.

The federal government’s has good information to help you prepare for a wide variety of emergencies. The National Weather Service has advice on hurricane preparedness. At a minimum, here are some things you should be able to locate and pull together at short notice:

  • Important papers, including passports, birth certificates, wills, powers of attorney, financial account information and Social Security cards.
  • Personal IDs such as your driver’s license and health insurance cards.
  • Cash. With large scale power outages, ATMs may not function for many days.
  • Credit cards. You probably want at least two, just in case there’s an issue with one of them.
  • Medications. Try to have a few weeks’ worth on hand. Understand how to renew prescriptions if you can’t use your local pharmacy.
  • Irreplaceable items. Try to keep these to a minimum.
  • Electronics, including chargers and extra batteries. Also make sure your cell phone is fully charged.

In case you need to leave your home, give some thought to an evacuation plan. Do you have family or friends with whom you could stay for an extended period? When we owned a primary home and a beach house, this never concerned me. I was pretty sure one would always be available. Now that we have just one home, we need a plan.

Also take time to review your insurance policies. Do you have flood insurance on your home? If your car is damaged in a flood, are you covered? My town saw a lot of damage from Hurricane Sandy. We had friends who were faced with more than $100,000 in repair costs.

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