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Start of hurricane season a good time to check your paperwork

Connie Prater

Yesterday’s start of the 2008 hurricane season brought back memories of my many brushes with disaster living in South Florida.

Are you ready for whatever might happen? If you have to leave home in a hurry, would you have access to your credit cards and other financial documents? Here’s a helpful checklist for those living in the hurricane zone — which can be anywhere from Puerto Rico to the Gulf Coast and up into New England.

Unprepared
A new Mason-Dixon poll conducted last month with 1,100 adults living in the Atlantic and Gulf coastal states found that less than half (about 40 percent) had a family disaster plan. Every year about this time in Florida, we stocked up on bottled water, batteries and canned goods just in case the Atlantic Ocean stirred up a hurricane strong enough to knock out our power.

I’ve moved to Central Texas, but lessons learned in “hurricane alley” die hard and hold true for any natural disaster.

I always know where my homeowner’s insurance policy is. I have a list of my credit cards, with account numbers and toll-free numbers for the credit card issuers. In years past, I have bundled these items up and put them in large one-gallon sized resealable sandwich bags and placed that in a plastic bag or container. I also go to the ATM and withdraw cash before a storm hits. ATMs don’t work without electricity.

Anything can happen
Hurricane Katrina should have taught everyone that anything can happen.

Even if you don’t live in the path of hurricanes, it’s a good idea to check your important papers. A local Texas station is even airing reminders about setting up a meeting place for family members. If you’re separated from each other, how will you get in contact? All good things to plan for and keep in mind.

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