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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > From the Director: for January, A New Financial Emergency Plan

From the Director: for January, A New Financial Emergency Plan


January 23, 2010


Whether it’s a natural disaster or a family emergency, it’s the worst time to discover that you cannot find vital family records or papers. It’s the worst time to realize you don’t have your insurance or bank account numbers, your insurance agent’s phone number, or a list of the valuable items in your house.

Organizing your important records may be the last thing you might think of as a vital part of disaster planning. But maybe it should be the first.

For Your Family:

We’ve put together some simple steps to financial preparedness as part of our Maine Prepares preparedness library.

These simple steps will get you started putting together a household inventory, and organizing your credit card and bank account records, insurance policies, medical records, and identification information. We recommend a safe deposit box for copies of important records, but another option is to keep copies in a safe place away from your house, such as at another family member’s home.

Remember, too, that we’re not just talking about a flood or a fire. What if you have a burglary, and you can’t remember or describe what was stolen? What if you have a medical emergency, and your family has to sort out how to pay bills, or where to file an insurance claim?

These simple financial preparedness steps can give your family one less thing to worry about, at a time when you need peace of mind the most.

Business Owners:

Everything about disaster recovery starts with your records.

The Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) has some great tools for business emergency planning. In particular, their checklist on Vital Records will walk you through identifying your vital records, and recording where they are kept and backed up.

When a major emergency or disaster occurs in any part of the State, SBA Disaster Assistance is one of the programs potentially available for businesses to help them recover. Your financial history records will be particularly important, first to help the State justify the need for this assistance, and then for you to apply for it.

Public Officials

No doubt your community already complies with Maine State laws and rules regarding record retention. Your financial records are open to the public, and you probably have an accountant who advises you on financial record-keeping procedures. The Maine State Archives also has great resources for local records managers.

I’ll also make a plug for a different kind of records – road and bridge maintenance records. If you keep track of repairs to your road systems, you’ll be able to show if you have certain roads or areas that receive frequent damage from weather events. That can help make the case for a Hazard Mitigation grant to fix the problem once and for all. MEMA offers an [easy-to-use Road Tracker spreadsheet] ( (in Microsoft Excel format) to track road repairs.

Record-keeping is the least thought about aspect of disaster planning, and could easily be the most important. Make a resolution and start your Emergency Financial First Aid Kit today.

Thoughts? Let me know.


Rob McAleer, Director, Maine Emergency Management Agency



Last update: 07/20/10