Tips on Recovering Financially from a Disaster

Disasters like recent Oklahoma tornadoes take an enormous toll on victims – not only emotionally, but financially, as well.

Here are some tips on regaining financial balance in the days following a disaster from Disaster Recovery: a Guide to Financial Issues, published as a public service by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, American Red Cross and National Endowment for Financial Education:

Try to avoid making major financial decisions.

If your home is damaged and uninhabitable, contact the Red Cross, your county office of emergency management or other local disaster relief organizations to guide you to shelters and temporary housing.

If you need cash, contact the Red Cross, and if you are in a major disaster area, call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They may be able to guide you to sources of emergency cash assistance. You may receive emergency cash assistance from federal, state or local government following the declaration of a disaster. The money generally is not taxable.

If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay all your bills, contact your creditors and ask for more time. If your residence is temporarily uninhabitable or totally destroyed, notify service companies – like the utility and phone company – so they can stop billing immediately. Try to pay as many of your bills on time as possible to protect your credit rating. 

You may want to consider the assistance of a professional financial advisor. Ask friends or other professional advisors, such as your lawyer, for references. You may also check with organizations like the Oklahoma Society of CPAs.

Phil Brockhaus, CPA, a principal/shareholder with Peters & Chandler PC in Oklahoma City and current OSCPA president, said, “We know many of our friends, family and neighbors are going through an extremely difficult time right now. We hope this financial advice, at least in some small way, will help them get back on their feet.”

Disaster Recovery: a Guide to Financial Issues
 offers additional advice on such topics as managing an injury or disability, financial decisions after a death, stabilizing your finances, lawsuits and other settlements, and managing a property loss. The guide, along with Disasters and Financial Planning: A Guide for Preparedness, is available for free from the OSCPA online at

With more than 6,000 members in public practice, industry, government and education, the OSCPA is Oklahoma’s only statewide professional association of CPAs. Since 1918, the organization has continued to provide professional education, conduct quality reviews and promote and maintain high standards of integrity and competence within the accounting profession.

Updated 05-11-2010

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