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Sunday, August 27, 2017

7 Financial Lessons from Hurricane Harvey

Images of the devastation left behind by hurricane Harvey have made this Game of Thrones season finale Sunday a lot less exciting.  Looking at the big picture is really something we all need to do a whole lot more of.  With everyone so divided these days (Nazis versus anti-Nazis, "Trumptards" versus "Libtards" e.g.), it unfortunately takes an epic disaster for us to once again come together as a nation of united Americans with a common cause.

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The "big picture" for us all as citizens is that we want the best for our country, we want everyone to have a chance to prosper and be safe from violence, and we all want to be treated equitably as we pursue our unique versions of happiness.  If only we could always keep this in mind!

So I have some friends in the Houston area.  They're down to two days of fresh water and food.  They are trapped with flood waters nearly coming inside their home.  It's been raining all day as Harvey still lurks, now as a tropical storm.  And they're better off than the thousands of people who have been displaced.  There is still no way of knowing how many people are dead.  If you can help, please consider doing so.

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Events like this make me wonder if I should've sought to cancel my flood insurance.  You see, my geographical neighbor is the San Luis Rey river, and when I first moved in, I did have to buy flood insurance.  My real neighbor, Bobby, and I decided to take our case to the city offices.  We had an engineer approve our homes as "safe" from flooding and ever since then I've not had to pay for flood insurance.  Harvey has made me think: Do all of the people who live in that area of the country characterized by swampy land, low-elevation, near rivers and the dangers coming from the warm ocean waters, have flood insurance?

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The damage will be in the billions once the waters recede.  Individual homeowners or landlords will have to wait months before their claims can be processed.  This all brings me to this...

1.  Is it worth living in a place like Louisiana or Southeast Texas?  Climate change has made monster hurricanes even that much more common and frequent.  Don't buy a home or live in an area prone to yearly hurricanes/flooding.

2.  Keep plenty of canned food and water in your pantry.  The refrigerator will be useless. 

3.  Skipping out on flood insurance is risky, especially if you live near a flood zone.

4.  Not paying a couple hundred dollars or so for a disaster preparedness kit is just plain cheap and stupid.

5.  Have some cash at home!  I know it sounds ridiculous, but having some cash hidden in your home will come in handy during a disaster.  What...do you expect your ATM to be dispensing cash?  Your bank to be wide open?

6.  Buy a generator.  Make sure you have fuel for it too.  Electrical power will be out and this may be your only way of being able to watch Game of Thrones on HBO (and get important safety updates too, of course).

7.  Get a safety deposit box at a bank and place your most important files (car pink slips, deeds, etc.) in it.  Sometimes you don't have time to grab things. 

No one can ever be fully prepared for a disaster, but some preparation is better than none.  Both Katrina and Harvey are reminders that there are things far more important than politics.  Let's keep our prayers up for the people of Texas!

Thanks for reading.  Until next time.        

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