The past week was a bit of a curveball, as those who follow me on Twitter know (don’t follow me? Well, you can find me on twitter here). Last week I had a week of unintended vacation all thanks to a tornado that ripped through the town where I work. The tornado hit Sunday around 4 pm and basically came up from the lake and through town like a freight train.
As soon as I heard about the tornado, I grabbed my phone and called my office-mate to make sure she was ok. Thankfully, the storm rolled south of her place, which is just north of town. Before too long, pictures of the damage started to appear on Facebook, Twitter and the local TV station. It hardly looked like the same town – it really looked like a bomb hit. Century old buildings destroyed, trees blown into match sticks, cars smashed, glass and debris everywhere. My whole family was glued to the tv as we watched more and more pictures of the destruction of the pretty little town. Amazingly, for all the destruction, there was only one fatality. Had the tornado happened during the work week or on a Saturday, it could have been much worse.
Once I saw the pictures of the centre of town, I started to worry – was my office still standing? Did I still have a place of employment? I tried calling my boss but couldn’t get through, so I flipped on the local radio station and waited for an update. Monday morning came around and the entire town was still without power, the road into town was closed, so I knew it wasn’t likely that I would be getting into work, if the office was even still standing. Monday afternoon, I got an email from my boss that the office was still standing and in good shape, but had no electricity or gas and was in the no-go zone.
A full week later, the office finally got power back and we were able to go in. The full week off work gave me some time to reflect on natural disasters and finances. Here’s what I came up with:
- Emergency Funds are the most important savings a person can have. Most of the time, people say that EFs are important in case you get laid off. They’re also important if you can’t get to work or don’t have a workplace to go to.
- If you own it – insure it. After a tornado, it doesn’t take long to realize that most of our possessions are just stuff, but you do need a roof over your head and a vehicle (at least around here). Content or renters insurance is a good thing to have too for the more expensive contents of your home.
- Spend the money on assembling a good emergency kit. Get a rubbermaid container and put in food (non perishable obviously), water, flashlights and batteries, matches, first aid kit, any special required items like prescription drugs, a crank or battery operated radio, blankets, toiletries and hand sanitizer, some basic tools and duct tape.
- Have an emergency stash of cash. All five banks in town were heavily damaged by the tornado and ATMs and those plastic cards don’t work when the power is out. A good place to keep your emergency stash o’ cash is in your emergency kit.
- Keep an up to date list of account numbers and financial obligations (mortgage or car loans, etc.,) as well as contact numbers associated with those accounts. You might want to put this in your emergency kit too.
Thankfully, I was able to keep the financial impact of being off work minimal by using up some of my sick time. It’s not ideal, but I still have a couple days left, so I should be ok for the rest of the year. Have you ever experienced a natural disaster? What advice do you have?
(By the way, my adventures in buying a house series will continue next week)
Have a good ‘un