Coming off the heals of Hurricane Ida, we are all dealing with insurance adjusters, remodels, smaller fixes, or yard/fence repairs in some way. In the midst of that first crazy week, I had to retrieve some documents from my home office several times. Thankfully, my home wasn’t damaged on the inside and I was evacuated to my parents’ house close by, but I quickly realized just how ill-prepared I was to file for FEMA assistance, check in with my insurance companies, or even understand my coverages.
Many years ago, I put together a Hurricane Box, so I’ve revisited that idea to be better prepared for next time and to have all of my important items in one place. Fingers crossed, we don’t have to experience another massive storm for a long time, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
What to include in your Hurricane Box?
- Family Identification. Have a copy of you and your spouse’s drivers license or ID (front and back) on hand. My husband was busy doing clean-up for several days after Ida, and I needed his license for some applications. Keep a copy of your social security card (and your spouse) and at least the SSN written down for each of your children. It’s not a bad idea to have an electronic copy kept somewhere too.
- Insurance Documents. Print out the declaration page for each of your policies. If you own multiple homes or rental property, copy all of that information as well. With limited cell service and no internet access, many of us were unable to Google the phone numbers for our insurance providers. Keep the phone numbers and your policy numbers with you. This makes starting the claim process much easier. You can also create a binder with copies of your important paperwork.
- Special Family Photos. I’ve added photo albums, tossed in some framed photos, and added my external hard drive where I store digital files. You never know what you might come home to or where water could enter your home and ruin prints. I know it’s important to me to have my children’s school pictures also, so I plan to scan them in from past years to add to my external hard drive for safe keeping.
- Valuables. Any family heirlooms, jewelry, wedding videos, small items that are special to you or your family should also go in the box. Maybe make a list of the Top 10 things you would want to take with you if you evacuate and tape the list into the box. That way you don’t have to think about it under the pressure of packing, you can just grab the items and go!
- Favorites Snugglies. If you still have little ones who have a prized stuffed animal, blanket, or toy, you’ll want to grab these too! Not only are they comforting to a child while you are displaced, but you’ll know they are safe in case your home sustains damage. The pictures of children’s rooms destroyed after a bad storm are the most heart-breaking to me. Don’t leave the best teddy behind!
- Electronics. It was made abundantly clear to me after this last storm that I need to invest in a good old fashioned radio. When we lost power and internet and cable, we felt lost and disconnected. We craved hearing what was going on around us. I don’t even own a radio anymore, but radio and batteries are getting added to my box! Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup phone portable charger power bank or two thrown in there!
- Impending Mail. This sounds silly, but I realized a few days into evacuating that all of my bills were due! I wished I had grabbed the mail file from my office so that I can go through my accounts and call or send payment for the utility bills and my mortgage. Of course, some people may get extensions, some banks weren’t open for several days, and other variables, but I knew I needed to at least have the bills with me to get all of my account numbers and figure out what to do next!
There are so many items that you think about after the fact and wished you had grabbed on your way out! Evacuating is stressful and rushed and always much more overwhelming than we anticipate a few days before we determine that “this is going to be a bad one!” What are some other items you wished you had taken with you? What should be added to this list to be more prepared?