Nine key financial strategies for recovery after a disaster

Tools and resources to help homeowners and renters make financial decisions.

Photo credit: Penny Martin
Photo credit: Penny Martin

Financial recovery after a natural disaster involves many decisions by homeowners and renters. Occasionally, Michigan residents deal with floods, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, power outages, and other severe weather-related events. Where do I start? Where will I live? What is next?

Tools to help you sort out the pieces of your financial recovery puzzle are contained in the Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit-Michigan Version

Unit 2 discusses key strategies that all disaster survivors should know:

  • Document important details
  • Obtain accurate information
  • Take care of yourself
  • Help kids cope
  • Accept financial help
  • Engage a case manager to work with you
  • Obtain assistance from a Long-term Recovery Committee
  • Work with financial professionals
  • Use helpers

Units 3 to 9 give more information, worksheets, and resources to help implement your strategies depending on your situation. Where do you start when you return to your home? How do you assess your financial situation and decide your housing options? Also included are tips to adjust to your new normal and find local resources. The Disaster Video Series is a visual tool to describe your choices.

As homeowners and renters consider next steps, they can use several checklists in the Housing Counseling Disaster Recovery Toolkit from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:

  • Household Recovery goes over filing insurance claims, contacting your mortgage company and other creditors, protecting your income and credit rating, applying for disaster assistance, and managing the rebuilding process.
  • Insurance Claims reviews the steps to file homeowner and renter insurance claims.
  • Working with Contractors contains tips on finding a contractor, executing a contract, and overseeing the work.
  • Healthy Homes After a Disaster covers rebuilding including protecting yourself, staying safe, and damage assessment.
  • Avoiding Post-Disaster Scams and Fraud helps with awareness of many types of contractor, financial, fake charity, and car scams targeting disaster victims.

Extension’s Disaster Education Network (EDEN) has more educational resources on various types of natural disasters and advice for homeowners and farmers. The Children and Disasters page offers useful tips to help children, youth and teens respond to and recover from disasters.

The State of Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) has a website on preparing for and recovering from disasters. Some insurance-related tips for homeowners and renters with insurance claims include how to document the damage and understand the claim process. In addition, consider contacting your local 2-1-1 (http://www.mi211.org/) for additional resources in your community.

Financially recovering after a natural disaster can be less stressful when you use some available tools and local resources. Find more information about financial management and housing, visit Michigan State University Extension or MIMoneyHealth.org.

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