Houston, TX, USA
August 1, 2012

More than 20,000 people were evacuated from one county alone when Tropical Storm Debby hit the Florida coast. In Colorado, wildfires forced the evacuation of 35,000 people. More than 346 homes were destroyed by fire. Thousands of people will have to start all over again, and even those who were fortunate enough to go back to their homes will  most likely be dealing with insurance claims in the months to come.

According to FEMA, “… each household needs to have a disaster preparedness plan. The first 72 hours after a disaster are critical. Each person should be prepared to be self-sufficient – able to live without running water, electricity and/or gas, and telephones – for at least three days following a disaster.”

Suggested items to pack in a 72-hour kit usually include food, water, first aid kit, medications, etc., but they rarely mention including information that will allow you to deal with the disaster while you’re out of your home OR helping you get back into it.

Joyce Moseley Pierce, host of the All You Need to Know Show on Preparedness Radio Network, asserts, “At home or in a shelter, you’ve still got bills to pay, and now you’re most likely going to have insurance companies to deal with. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to not only have your vital paperwork and photos in one place, but to have the details recorded so you grab it all at a moment’s notice.”

When Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf Coast in 2008, the beach house owned by Pierce’s daughter was swept away. It was several weeks before they were allowed to enter the area to see the full damage. The affected peninsula was heavily guarded by police and proof of ownership was required before drivers could pass through. “Drivers were being turned away because they didn’t have that proof,” says Pierce. “But how can a family provide proof of ownership when their entire life’s belongings have vanished?”

Disasters happen and while it is devastating to all affected, we still see optimistic people on the news who are just grateful their loved ones are all safe. However, families are not always together when disaster hits. They may be separated for a time and there may be loss of life. “Having a plan is crucial! Going through this guide with your family when you are not in a crisis situation will allow everyone to be informed and act responsibly,” asserts Pierce.

All They’ll Need to Know, a compilation of forms that allows one to keep all vital records in one easy filing system, is available as an immediate download through .

Joyce Moseley Pierce,,