Natural Disaster Guide: Be Prepared and Organized After a Natural Disaster

disaster guide


Houston had a terrifying natural disaster last week, on a day that seemed like a regular day with lots of weather. That followed an emergency just 2 weeks before from another weather alert. Emergency preparedness is no joke all year long, not only during Hurricane Season. We have lots of lists of how to be prepared for an emergency. What do we do after that emergency happens?

Preparing a disaster kit

A disaster kit can be useful no matter what situation occurs. The kit contents can be stored in a water-tight bin. Being organized with your kit gives you peace of mind in the event of a difficult situation.  The best case is to gather the supplies this week and review the contents once a year. The American Red Cross recommends you have the following basic supplies in your kit however you may want to add more items depending on your home and your situation.


Contacting others

We are all in contact with our families. However, during an emergency, keep in contact as much as possible. Gather your neighbors’ contact information and keep everyone’s information on your cell phone. Group text streams and social media are reliable, although family members are eager to hear your voice with a phone call. You can share on a family text thread on text to share news and updates. Staying in contact keeps everyone aware of what’s happening.


Contacting the appropriate agencies and insurance people after a natural disaster

Be organized with the insurance company app on your devices. It lists important numbers, ways to connect online, and details of your coverage. Get in touch with your own insurance company right away to make a claim. Inspect your home for structural damage, gas leaks, water damage, or electrical issues. Be sure it is safe to re-enter if you have evacuated. Document the damage with photos, videos, and detailed notes for insurance claims. Save all insurance information digitally for documentation and follow-up. You can seek disaster assistance from local, state, and federal agencies such as FEMA. Visit the FEMA website or call the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585). Complete the online application form with details about the damage incurred. It is going to take time. The disaster recovery process involves a series of coordinated steps to help individuals and communities return to normalcy after a disaster.

Supporting others during a disaster

Houston is a major city where sections of the city may not be equally affected by a natural disaster. There are ways you can support others during a natural disaster. Offer your home as temporary shelter if it’s safe and you have the space. Share resources like food, water, blankets, and first aid supplies with those in need. Ensure your neighbors, especially the elderly, are safe and have what they need. Maintain a calm and positive outlook to help reduce anxiety and panic among those around you. Equally important is support for your mental health during a crisis.


Stay informed

Be prepared with the necessary items to stay informed from local television and radio stations. A battery-operated or hand-crank radio is invaluable in an emergency. Keep portable power banks charged and ready to recharge your mobile devices. Solar chargers are another option for keeping devices charged when conventional power sources are unavailable. Portable generators can keep your refrigerator running for days. Disasters unfold over days. Be alert and continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated. Ongoing information about the situation will help you stay on track in your response.


Take care of yourself

Stressful times require extra self-care. Be sure to keep your routines of meals and bedtimes as rituals as much as possible. Accept help as it is offered with the idea of paying things forward later. With more rest, nutrition, and hydration, you will be more resilient.


We are here to support each other during emergencies. Keep this list where you can find it for reference if needed. A plan is priceless when emergencies happen.


Updates to Your Emergency Preparedness Plan


updates to your emergency preparedness plan


Every year we prepare for possible hurricanes here in Houston. Now we know that there are many different emergencies that crop up. Preparing in advance helps us in the moment of the situation but also with feeling capable of helping others as well. Here are six updates you can make for your smart preparedness strategy.


Communicate your emergency plan with your family.

Every family needs a plan for evacuation, shelter in place, and communication. The first step is to host a conversation discussing what is required in each situation. Discuss situations that require these options and see if there is consensus. Review what is needed in each case and work as a team to assemble what is required. Having a common plan and communicating about that plan helps everyone feel more secure.


Review your insurance coverage.

Check your coverage for flood, wind, and other disasters in order to know your specific coverage. Learn more from your trusted insurance agent or reach out for further information if needed. The first step is to include your documented coverage with your important documents.  From here you can add coverage as needed depending on your situation.


Update your emergency kit.

Every home has an emergency kit and September is a great time to update what is in the kit. The first step is to check batteries and perishables. Check if medicines have expired. If there are new additions as technology has changed, this is a good time to review. Since the Spring of 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended people include additional items in their kits such as masks, hand sanitizer, and infant formula. Be sure your pet supplies are included in your kit.


Ensure continuous backup of devices

Backing up your data ensures you always have access to critical information. Be sure you use a reliable, consistent, automated backup daily. The first step is to choose a backup system and install this.


Prepare a home inventory.

Home inventory is a list of your assets. There are many options. The first step is to choose an inventory system that works for you. The simplest system is a home video of your assets, paired with purchase receipts. Also available are online inventories that can include photos and videos. The home inventory is as necessary as your important documents in keeping your assets secure.


Gather all your important documents.

It can be overwhelming to gather your documents together. The first step is a list of what you need and what needs to be most current. Take 30 minutes once a week for several weeks to find these online or paper documents.

We know the value of proactive preparation for emergencies of all sorts. Take steps now for updating or finalizing your preparations.





Get Tech Ready for an Emergency

Get Tech Ready for An Emergency with these information tips from


get tech ready for emergencies

Building Your Basic Emergency Kit


During and after an emergency, you may need stay in your home for a week or more with sufficient supplies. This kit is a group of basic supplies in case of a lengthy emergency.

Find this list on, a national website dedicated to preparation.


Organizing and Creating Your Home Inventory


Organizing a home inventory



Our state is well versed in emergency preparation. We have emergency pantry supplies, back up power sources, and lots of batteries. We are prepared.

Learning about the uncertainty and frequency of emergencies, we are reminded of the next steps and the necessity of creating and organizing a home inventory.  September is National Preparedness Month which reminds us about the importance and value of a home inventory. We often put off this work because it can be a time consuming. However, it can be manageable in small steps. Here are a variety of systems to create your home inventory and baby steps to get started.


Know the use and goals of your home inventory

Knowing the goal for your inventory is important.  Is your goal for your home inventory to assure that you have sufficient financial coverage? Are there items in your home that you want to equitably pass to your children and want to know the value? Do you want to be secure in knowing you could replace what you have in case of an emergency? These different reasons are all important goals separately or together for your why behind the effort of this work.

There are different options for home insurance coverage.  Check your policy for coverage of your home, especially to determine what is covered and how it is covered.  Your policy could be cash value where you begin with receiving cash/check for the existing value of your items.  Or your policy could be replacement value, where you receive a check to replace the items at the current cost. Check coverage on big ticket items, such as jewelry, art and collectibles which may have increased in value and require additional coverage from your standard homeowners insurance policy.

Estate planning and equitable division of items are important as we age.  Talk to your legal counsel about what types of inventories would be most valuable. It may be important to list specific items for your family members in accord with your long term wishes. This inventory will be one part of your estate.


Paper and Digital Inventories

Your inventory can be digital, paper, or a combination of both.

Digital options includes these possibilities.

  • Video your home and it’s contents, talking through the names and details of the items.  Copy the video and place one at your house and another off site.
  • Use an Excel worksheet or GoogleSheet to list the items room by room.
  • Your documentation should include the name of the room, the category of the item (art, jewelry, electronics, furniture, decor,) item description, brand name if applicable, where purchased, model and serial numbers, date purchased, and purchase price. The estimated value could be optional information.
  • Scan in sales receipts of items and connect this information with your Excel worksheet or GoogleSheet.
  • Take photos with your smart phone and create albums within your photos to organize your inventory.
  • Back up all documents to the cloud to access these if you are away from home.
  • Use HomeZada or Pinventory online inventories to capture all your information and keep it stored in the cloud.

Paper options include these possibilities:

  • Create a binder with photos of each item and paper receipts of purchases inserted into sheet protectors.
  • These can be separated using dividers with categories such as electronics, furniture, appliances, and jewelry. Or these can be categorized by room, such as bedroom 1, bedroom 2, bedroom 3, living room, kitchen etc.
  • Cross reference with between categories using color.
  • Use the same requirements for this inventory as your digital inventory.
  • Duplicate your paper binder and keep one copy off site.
Home Inventory
Date of Inventory
Property Location
Item Number Room Category Item description Purchased from Model and Serial Number Date purchased Purchase Amount Estimated Value
Primary BR, 2nd BR, 3rdBR, Living, Kitchen Art, Jewelry, Electronics, Furniture, Clothing Brand, size, materials, number Name of store, Online, or from family

Here’s what to be sure to include:

  • Item number (one for each item listed)
  • Room (location of item)
  • Category (art, furniture, electronics, household goods, grooming, etc.)
  • Item description (Brand, size, materials)
  • Purchased from (Macy’s, Best Buy, etc.)
  • Make and model, or serial number if available
  • Picture of item for insurance purposes
  • Purchase date (helps with depreciation, by year)
  • Original price (if you have the receipt you can scan and attach it)
  • Estimated value


Organizing your vital documents

This might be where you are most organized!  Many of us have a safe or a waterproof grab and go box. Here’s a list of what should be a part of your vital documents. You can also keep these documents digitally on Evernote or save them on a flash or external hard drive in your waterproof box or safe. Be sure to use strong password for your Evernote account.


Start your home inventory now

  • Start with one room, then move around your home adding rooms.
  • Start with recent purchases, then work backwards
  • Start with the most expensive or big ticket items first.
  • Count clothing by category and by designer.  Make note of any items that are especially valuable.
  • Store sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals in a file or digitally.
  • Add to your inventory as new items are purchased.

Right now it is the most important time to start your inventory.


5 Small Starts for Emergency Preparedness

small ways to prepare for an emergency


September is Emergency Preparedness Month for good reason.  We have faced emergencies for many years and these seem to be more frequent and more intense. At the same time emergencies frighten and overwhelm us.  Now’s the time for us to button up our resources and start small.  Some of the simplest ways to prepare are the best and here are 5 small starts to begin.

Family contacts

Online connections are easy until the power or cell service goes out.  Create a spreadsheet of family contacts and print it out. Include in your sheet cell and home phones, email addresses, physical addresses and other contact information.  Keep this spreadsheet in a kitchen or office top drawer to access.


Create an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit  (EFFAK)

Finances and access to funds seem easy, like simply heading to the ATM for funds. That is not always the case in an emergency.  Begin preparing your Emergency Financial Fist Aid Kit with these instructions. Most importantly, keep $500 in cash, in dollar, five dollar, ten dollar and twenty dollar bills.  Funds are hard to access if there is no power.


Prep your Emergency Supply Kits

Prepare kits for all the places you will be, whether at home, at work or in the car.  Your kits should include supplies for a minimum of three days worth of food and water.  Other essentials include battery radio, flashlight, batteries, first aid, medicines and toiletries. Refresh these kits annually.


Family plan

Family plans can be communicated during family meetings.  Talking about the plan makes it less scary and easy to accomplish. Your family plan should include where to meet if there is a fire in your home, where to meet if a disaster happens while your kids are at school and you are at work, and where to meet if you are separated.


Helpful apps

If you have cell access, there are 2 helpful apps to download.

FEMA: weather alerts, safety tips and shelter information

American Red Cross: a variety of apps including personal and pet first aid, blood, and hero care


You and your family will have peace of mind knowing you have started preparing.

How to Organize Your Pantry When You Have Emergency Supplies


We are in our pantries more than ever right now! Meals are shared times that bring us comfort and hope during stressful times. Emergency preparation has us supplying our pantry so that we are prepared to eat at home while we work at home. The combination of both access and extensive supply can be a challenge for us. Here are 7 tips for getting organized and making meals happen in your home.


Pull it all out and expect chaos

The first step of all organizing is decluttering and categorizing. Start this step with lots of counter space available. Even the most organized cook has items that are past expiration dates.  Check dates and let go of items that you feel are past the prime. This first step may feel chaotic and overwhelmed, however push through to clear the pantry and wipe the shelves clean.


Categorize and group items together by use

Think of your grocery store and how items are grouped together.  Use this to group items together for your pantry.  You can also create useful zones which apply to your family, such as the breakfast zone, beverage zone, and snack zone. You can group as you empty your pantry too.


Think about auxiliary locations

Most of us have added a substantial amount of additional products to last through the time we are at home. Locate auxiliary storage in an adjacent closet, in a nearby laundry room, or near the door in your garage.  Before you return items to your pantry, think about where you would store which items.

  • Store items used frequently in your kitchen pantry.
  • Store back up items in your adjacent closet.
  • Group items used together (speghetti, sauce) in the pantry or adjacent closet.
  • Adjust shelves or add additional organizing products to add space.
  • Add storage to your door.


Place items by use in your pantry

The best organizing advice has to do with placing items by function.  Place what you use most frequently at eye level. For your kids, place snacks at their eye levels. Heavy items go on the bottom of your pantry and be sure to keep entry clear for access. Use the top shelf for overflow items.


Use organizing products for access

Here are some favorite bins for organizing your pantry.


Use labeling to be sure your pantry stays organized

My favorite labels are simple with black lettering and white background. A Brother P Touch labeler is what I use. There are tons of fun options on Pinterest. I label both the bins and the shelves.  Its easy for everyone to put away groceries and help!


Keep your extra supplies organized

In your new auxiliary space, organize just like your pantry. Be sure to use a list posted in the auxiliary space to be sure you keep on top of inventory.  Use vertical space wisely to maximize the access and space as well. For the freezer, you a magnetic dry erase board to list what is located there.  Group items by shelf or use a plastic bin in the deep freeze. Categories in your freezer include veggies,


Have fun with getting your pantry and extra stock organized. Organizing is a team sport! Your family can join in sorting and categorizing. One family member will love to help you with labels.  Organizing is a skill like all others your kids are learning at home schooling. Take this to the next step with sharing meal preparation and kitchen clean up too. If you are on your own, pull up your organizing playlist for fun.



More pantry organizing here!


How Every Day Organizing Helps Emergency Preparedness

Good organization equals emergency preparedness


Being organized equals preparedness.  There’s no down side to being a little more prepared in general ways especially important when it comes to emergencies. While it feels uncomfortable to discuss emergencies of any sort, there’s comfort in knowing you have created a plan.  These little steps with connections, paper work and finances, will take a few extra minutes and give you a big benefit later.


Connections in case of emergency

Our family, friends and neighbors are most important during an emergency.  It’s who we rely on and support when an emergency happens.  Be sure to make a family emergency plan, include pets and neighbors. That plan should include where to re-connect and meet up after a disaster.  Have an out-of-town emergency contact also keeps everyone connected.


Update important documents regularly

Maybe you organized your insurance and important documents several years back immediately after a previous emergency.  Spend time each year to review insurance policies, tax documents, and life insurance policies.  Keep a current list of utility account numbers in case you are away from your home. All of this should be updated in your safe.


Financial Preparedness

There’s never a good time financially for an emergency. Create an emergency savings fund and keep cash on hand for emergencies. That would be a significant enough amount, such as $500. Surprisingly during a crisis you cannot access all your funds via ATM.


We are often busy enough and put off getting these small organizing pieces in order.  If you decide to do just one thing, add an Emergency Contact to your smart phone. There’s a way to add your medical information and then test how to open your phone.  In our family, we have Find a Friend on our iphones. This app identifies where we are just in case.  Decide on one small thing you can do or a series of small tasks to be prepared.



Being Organized and Prepared For A Family Emergency

organized and prepared for a family emergency


Family emergencies strike unfortunately routinely, from a broken arm to a heart attack. Family health crises are among the most stressful for all of us.   The best way to face an emergency is by being organized and prepared.  Your lists will be what you rely on for information. These preparations can help you create the best plan prior to when an emergency happens.


Your Medical Health List

Each doctor you meet requests a list of health challenges, presciptions and supplments.  Make this list easy to access by keeping it digitally in your Notes app, Evernote, or other smart phone app. The list can be shared with a family member in case of emergency.  For health challenges, list the year and what happened (surgery, treatment).  For presciptions and supplements, list the item, what that is treating, and the dosage. If you have a paper list, you can take a photo to keep in your phone as well.


Your Medical Plan and Doctor List

With frequent changes to medical plans and doctors, keep a list of your specialists, their phone numbers and their specialty in your smart phone contacts.  Track your annual visits by making appointments that coincide with a birthday, a season (fall, winter, spring summer) or another significant milestone to remind you.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in keeping on track with annual visits to medical and dental professionals.   Your own health care is as important as those in your family.


Ongoing health concerns

  • Organizing your medical records is an important step for chronic illness. Keep a notebook to bring to your doctor’s office to keep current discussions and treatments.  You will want to refer to this regularly with notes and updates.  Organize your medical history in a file folder, by doctor or illness.


  • Organizing your medications is one part of your ongoing health concerns. Fill day of the week, time of day pill organizers and set alarms to remind you to take medication. Place pills at the point of where they are taken, such as by your bed in the evening or in the kitchen for morning.


  • When it comes to the many facets of an ongoing illness, share responsibility with family members.  When my mom faced her illness, my responsibility was health care and my sister took on financial responsibilities. Confer weekly on these responsibilities so everyone is up to date.  You can also create a google sheet to share information with family. Coordination is key to family communication.


Support for you and your family

Be ready for ongoing support for yourself and your self care. Friends and family will ask how they can help and be sure to give everyone a small responsibility. It can include setting up a Care Calendar for meals and transportation. Having someone attend the appointments can be helpful in capturing notes and keeping strong during the treatments. That support can be as small as dropping off a gallon of milk to being a listener when you are sad, anxious and afraid.


Take good care of yourself with good sleep and good nutrition. Get in bed on time and eat regular, balanced meals.  It’s easy to get off track with both of these during a crisis.


Family emergencies are part of life transitions. We age and life happens. Our family ages and abilities diminish.  Be organized and prepared to meet these transitions with positive actions.

Emergency Preparedness: Lessons Learned

emergency preparedness lessons learned


A little under 2 years ago, Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast.  Our community Kingwood, Texas suffered great losses. From loss comes lessons! It’s where we learn that we can help others too.  Here are several lessons learned on emergency preparedness that help you.


Protecting your home and finances

Most of our community suffered catastrophic losses. Flood insurance can help the financial loss.  Flood insurance is offered through a national program. It’s affordable compared to the losses you might incur in a flood.  Having this insurance helped many with replacement and rebuilding.  Check with your insurance agent to learn about coverage. Flood insurance must be in place for 30 days before using the coverage.


Now is the time to create your home inventory.  Your inventory can be a digital version. A video of your home is the least you can do on your smart phone.  Walk around your home identifying the items and where and when you purchased, and other significant information. HomeZada offers a digital inventory version you can complete in segments to protect your belongings in case of loss. Having this inventory saves you time and also helps you in case of loss.


Protecting your pets and family

There’s all types of emotional responses to catastrophe.  Many families experienced post traumatic stress after this flood.   Keep this in mind, all the while when your family appears unaffected.  Seeking support through community groups can help.  Many families were sharing their losses and thoughts through religous related affiliations.  A community event called Rainaxiety helped those deeply affected.  Seek out support as you find yourself struggling.


Preparing documentation for emergencies is the best step.  There are documents to prepare and keep ready for when you leave.  These documents can be gathered in a water proof safe, kept in a closet at home.  It’s easiest to organize these with labelled ziplocks.  If you have not been able to locate these, check online on ways to replace these documents now. Vital records will be needed for each of your family in case of an emergency.


Every day medical emergencies happen. Bike accidents, car accidents, and falling off a ladder are all things to be prepared for as much as major catastrophes.  Be sure you have your insurance in your car and in your wallet for these situations.


It’s the emergence of hope and community that are at work in an emergency. Those in our community rallied to help each other.   Be open to accepting help and giving help in these emergency situation. We are here to help each other.  That is the greatest blessing I learned during these difficult times.