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Drew Breakspear: Be ready for disaster

Emergencies and disasters can occur quickly without notice, and can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or be confined to your home. Being ready for a disaster is more than storing water and stocking up on supplies; it is being prepared to handle financial responsibilities and issues should disaster strike.

Having a plan to pay your bills and access to your important records and accounts will help you get back on your feet faster and avoid problems with your credit when you need it most.

Important household identification to consider adding to your Financial Readiness Kit include copies of photo IDs, birth certificates and Social Security cards for you and those in your household. Military service and pet ownership are also important factors to consider when putting your Financial Readiness Kit together. Keeping this information organized will allow you to re-establish contact with any family members and employers, and will be useful should you need emergency assistance.

You should also keep any mortgage payment and insurance policy information on hand. It is important that you are still able to access account information and continue to make payments in the event that you are unable to do so electronically. Maintaining an updated list of your financial obligations will assist you in continuing to pay bills and will save you and your family from the potential financial burden in the long run.

Starting the recovery process will require your personal identification and financial documents. Do not forget to safeguard those important, hard-to-replace documents in a bank safety deposit box and/or water and fireproof storage containers. You can visit The Florida Division of Emergency Management’s flgetaplan.com or Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) ready.gov for information and guides on how to create your Financial Readiness Kit.

While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a smooth hurricane season for the Sunshine State, it only takes one storm to make a catastrophe. Planning early will give you and your family peace of mind this hurricane season.

Drew Breakspear is commissioner of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation.

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