For South Louisiana, it’s not a matter of “IF” a disaster hits, it’s “when.” Disaster recovery starts when the sun is shining. Too many times, people are caught off guard when they can't get the help they need because they've failed to take care of business. Here’s some tips we’ve learned from helping thousands of families recover from all kinds of disaster.
- Be able to prove what you own and it’s worth. Take pictures of EVERYTHING in your house. Store them online on a site like Google Drive as well as pictures of any receipts you have.
- Document the condition of your home. Annually, walk through your home and video the condition of your home. Store the video online. This way, it’s easier to prove any damages were disaster-related and not preexisting.
- Pay your flood insurance policy premium. If you receive assistance from FEMA after a flood, you must maintain flood insurance on your home to receive help again. In many cases, FEMA will purchase homeowners a 3 year flood policy, but that must be maintained to get assistance again. Also, if you purchase a home that flooded and a previous owner received FEMA assistance, you must maintain flood insurance to get FEMA help if it floods again.
- Take care of the IRS. A lot of people don’t get help because they owe back taxes or have unfiled tax returns. The IRS offers free tax return prep by local agencies like CCDBR.
- Deal with Heirship property. It's not as hard or expensive as you think. Today, there are lots of resources to help like Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. The Louisiana Appleseed Network has even developed an app to get the process started.
- Mom and Dad may not always know best. If you have older parents, help them take care of this, especially if they aren't tech-savvy. Know their social security numbers, insurance information, and other identifying information.
- Be ready to prove where you lived at the time of a disaster. This applies to renters and homeowners. The best proof is a utility bill (electric, water , sewer, cable, landline telephone) in the name of someone in the household issued 30 days before or after the event. Many of these bills can be obtained online.