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Wildfire Disaster Recovery – 10 Next Steps

 recovery Wildfire Disaster Recovery – 10 Next Steps

If you’re among the many affected by the California wildfires, you’re probably still in a daze from the past week. Some of us have lost our homes, others are still unsure. Others are suffering the trauma of the event and of seeing their community and people they know lose so much. It’s normal to have a hard time focusing and being productive in a time like this, yet there’s still so much to do. Here are a few things to take care of once you and your family have a moment of breathing room.

  1. Call your utilities. Everything from gas to garbage – call and make sure they know you’ve been displaced so that they don’t continue to bill you.
  2. Call your credit cards. If you’ve lost your job or house (or both) during the wildfires, be sure to call your credit cards and ask to defer your minimum payments. This will stop past-due or over-limit fees from occurring.
  3. Contact your bank. Let your bank know you were affected by the wildfires and that you may be making purchase out of the area or more frequently than usual. This may stop a hold from being put on your account for suspected fraud.
  4. Prepare for the insurance company. If you were fortunate enough to have insurance, be sure to save receipts for everything you purchase. Hotels, food and other items may be reimbursed. Draw a floor plan of your home and begin an inventory of the items you lost, including all brand names or stores where the items were purchased if you can remember them.
  5. Hold or forward your mail. Place a hold on your mail or set up forwarding by calling the post office or filling out their online forms.
  6. Halt deliveries. If you’ve lost your home, be sure to contact any subscription services that deliver weekly or monthly (subscription boxes, bottled water, pet supplies, etc…).
  7. Pause or cancel auto-pays. If you have your rent or other bills/services set to auto-pay, be sure to stop any products affected by your home or job loss.
  8. Contact your student loan servicer. A disaster forbearance will erase any current and past due balances and stop payments for up to three months. After that, you can apply for income-based repayment for longer term reduced payment amounts.
  9. Transfer and refill prescriptions. If you’ve had to relocate out of the area, either temporarily or permanent, make sure you have access to your medication before you run out.
  10. Change your air filters. In your home, if you still have one, and in your car, make sure that you install new filters. The particulates in the air have been heavy throughout California and accumulate rapidly.