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You Need Not Be Caught Off Balance If Disaster Strikes

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on May 19, 2006:

Senator Dyson One channel that I watch regularly is "The Weather Channel." I'm not the only one. It's the first channel I turn on in the morning to see what to expect from Mother Nature.

"The Weather Channel" has been running a special called "It Could Happen Tomorrow." This program started airing after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the gulf coast states so devastatingly last summer. The program shows some pretty dire consequences if certain weather phenomenon should happened such as another massive hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster.

Hurricane Season officially begins June 1 and lasts until November. Unfortunately, our country hasn't come remotely close to recovering from the deadly hurricanes last year and the previous year in Florida.

Already, heavy rains have caused great havoc in New England and have displaced families who have had to leave their homes. Governors in some of those states have called for a state of emergency.

Before you run out and buy flashlights or duct tape, I would like to recommend that you purchase an Inventory or Household and Personal Property book. The one I have is approximately nine inches long and five inches wide and was designed this way to fit inside a safe deposit box. These books were designed many years ago for people who suffered a casualty or theft loss, which would help in insurance claims and Internal Revenue Service deductions.

There were many Post-Katrina lessons to be learned. First, as we found out in New Orleans and other gulf coast communities, you may not be able to count on the Federal Government -- especially the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- to respond quickly and effectively to a major disaster. A lot of blame was quickly thrown around, but little action. The response is still unacceptable

Our state and local governments now realize that they need a disaster recovery strategy in place long before a storm hits since they are so unpredictable.

Ask the people who suffered through the devastation of the tornado that struck down in La Plata, Hughesville, Calvert County and the Eastern Shore just a few years ago. In that case, the local and state governments as well as our first responders did a magnificent job of mitigating as much damage as they could. I shudder to think what would have happened if the tornado victims had suffered the same fate from FEMA as did the poor souls in the gulf coast states, post-Katrina.

This leads me back to the importance of protecting yourself against a possible calamity of nature.

Many people rely almost solely on their computers and store a lot of their data there and leave it there However, I was struck by a recent magazine article in which the IT director for the Louisiana Fourth Court of Appeals in New Orleans said, "Even with a disaster recovery strategy in place and a business continuity plan in order, there was no way to fully prepare for the devastation and resulting problems."

The article written by Samuel Greengard in StateTech magazine went on to state, "fallout from a computer disruption can be far-reaching. Government agencies that aren't online can't pay employees, provide essential services to citizens - including the distribution of food stamps and [other subsidy] payments - and aren't able to ensure public safety.

"What's more, the potential loss of records and data could prove devastating and could leave tax collection agencies, motor vehicle departments and courts in shambles."

When I read this, I knew that with simple planning, we can avoid many of the problems caused by our overeliance on computers. It is essential that you keep all relevant information such as your Social Security card, all other forms of personal identification including your driver's license, vehicle registration form, birth certificate, passport, tax records, insurance cards and every other valuable document on paper in a safe location where you can reach them if you fear a natural disaster is coming your way. Keeping them in an Inventory of Household and Personal Property book is a good idea.

Of course you need several of the above referenced items on you when you are away such as your driver's license, car registration and insurance cards. It is very easy to copy all of these and put them in a safe place while keeping the originals.

We know bad weather events can happen anytime, anywhere. Be as prepared to get your life back in order as soon as possible if we are to encounter any type of devastation we have endured in the recent past such as the tornado and Hurricanes Floyd and Isabel.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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