All of our hearts are with Houston, and the areas surrounding that have been devastated in the past few days. It feels a bit like Katrina did, though the true measure of the disaster is still yet to be understood (as in New Orleans).
What *is* clear is that many lives, businesses, and families have been radically altered.
How have you been processing this one?
When faced with these kinds of events, I’m often struck by how different my daily existence is from the images of devastation. The same is true here … but I must confess to feeling (at least at first) some “disaster fatigue” setting in.
It seems that the world has spawned disaster after disaster over the past few years. Perhaps it’s that social media has made everything seem so “present”. Even as compared to Katrina, which was over a decade ago, the connectivity of our lives is so much stronger.
But that doesn’t mean we turn away. No, this is the time where we actually need to “press in” a little, and care.
Charity Navigator, which is a great place to vet charities on a variety of financial (and otherwise) areas, has compiled a list of places to donate money: https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=5239
So, rather than my normal tax or financial fare this week, I have something different. I’ve stopped apologizing for being such an obsessive planner … it sort of pays to be that way, in my profession, after all! This week, I wanted to remind you of what we almost never think about during “good” times: How to prepare your Southwest Louisiana family for “grid-failure” emergencies.
This past weekend seemed like a really good time to bring it back to our minds. It often takes such events to kick us into gear to make a good plan.
Preparing a Disaster Plan In Southwest Louisiana
“Prepare while others are daydreaming.” -William Arthur Ward
With the images of devastation we’ve been seeing from Houston, in addition to being moved for those who are currently experiencing all this, I’ve been reminded how important having a plan really is.
This is true for finances (a tax plan, an estate plan, etc. — let us know if you need to set one of those up! (337) 463-9263), and it’s equally true for a big natural disaster.
We can be so complacent about the security of our daily existence, that an event like this seems unrealistic. But, we’re getting continued reminders, every year, of how fragile our modern world truly can be.
But that doesn’t mean you have to panic.
No, with a few basic points of preparation, you and your family could be vastly more prepared than your neighbors, even giving you the opportunity to be ones who can support and assist your neighbors, rather than have to *ask* for support.
There are three primary areas where you need to be prepared:
Water & Food
1) Energy: However unlikely a massive grid failure might seem now, it’s important that you at least think through what you and your family would do about heating your home during the winter (wood stove? indoor propane heater? burning your furniture?), and/or cooling your home during the summer (which may not be quite as critical).
Additionally, consider what parts of your existence are dependent on power, and what it would be like to live without it. Write down your plan.
2) Food & Water: For water and food, it’s a very good idea to have food and water for at least 3 days on hand, and in permanent storage. Typically, you need about a gallon of water, per person, per day … and non-perishable food is now so readily-available, that you have your pick for how to stock up. You can save water in a leech-proof plastic jug and just switch it out every 5 years.
3) Family Plan:
* Identify meeting places where you and your family would come together, in the event of some sort of catastrophic grid failure or event, in which you aren’t able to stay at home.
* Put together a “Go Bag” for your family, which carries critical supplies and information for whatever circumstance you may run across. Here is what your bag should include …
- A disaster plan including location of emergency centers, rallying points, possible evacuation routes, etc.
- Positive Identification, such as driver’s license, state I.D. card, or social security card
- Enough medicine to last an extended evacuation period
- Cash and change, as electronic banking transactions may not be available during the initial period following an emergency or evacuation
- A first aid kit
- Fire starting tool (e.g., matches, ferrocerium rod, lighter, etc.)
- Professional emergency literature explaining what to do in various types of disaster, studied and understood before the actual disaster but kept for reference
- Maps and travel information
- Standard camping equipment, including sanitation supplies
- Weather-appropriate clothing (e.g., poncho, headwear, gloves, etc.)
- Bedding items such as sleeping bags and blankets
- Medical records
- Pet, child, and elderly care needs
- Battery- or crank-powered radio
- Lighting (battery- or crank-powered flashlight, glow sticks)
- Firearms and appropriate ammunition
- Fixed-blade and folding knife
- Duct Tape and rope/paracord
- Plastic tarps for shelter and water collection
- Slingshot, pellet gun, blowgun or other small game hunting equipment
- Wire for binding and animal traps
This all might seem a bit excessive now … but so does every disaster plan — until disaster actually strikes.
So, perhaps make it a fun family activity to work through setting up these plans, and you’ll sleep much better knowing you’re prepared!
I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve you, and for your referrals.
Joshua L Ortego, CPA