How to Start Over After a Disaster


by Melonie Kennedy, The Organic Prepper:

Take a look at the news any day of the week and you’ll see stories of people affected by disasters: from entire communities dealing with the aftermath of tornadoes and large-scale flooding to families rebuilding after house fires and ruptured pipes caused by freezing weather. They all face the daunting prospect of starting over.

No matter what the cause, each of these people will deal not only with physical loss but with emotional trauma and financial impacts. Even the most prepared among us may someday deal with a catastrophe at the community or personal level that can’t be stopped, and we’ll have to decide whether to rebuild in place or start over elsewhere.

What’s non-negotiable is starting over, and what’s priceless is the mental preparation to do so, along with some resources for how to make that happen.

What to do BEFORE starting over
In the case of a disaster, the first step is, of course, to get yourself and your loved ones to safety. If you are able to do so safely, bring other items of value.

The second step is seemingly backward: prepare in advance. (That’s why you’re reading this blog, right?) Know the most likely natural disasters for your region and prepare accordingly. Those of us in earthquake country are able to mitigate danger and damage somewhat by practicing the “Stop, Cover, and Hold” drill and by taking steps to properly secure tall furniture, pictures, and breakable objects. For those in flood- and fire-prone areas, staging bug-out bags, sentimental items, and vital documents for evacuation or above high water levels will be very helpful.

Once the shaking stops or the water level drops, and it’s safe to enter your home, you can begin the process of salvaging and disposal without trying to find those necessities.

(For advice on replacing lost or destroyed essential documents, go read this article.)

Create an inventory
A key step in preparing your household for starting over is to create an inventory well before it is needed. Schedule some time to walk your home and property, room by room and building by building, and document the items you own. You can document your inventory in a simple notebook, download special home inventory forms from a website, pick up a booklet from your insurance agent, or use an app that allows you to note information with photo inserts of rooms and valuables.

No matter what format you use, be sure to include the following in your documentation

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