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    5 TIPS TO PREPARE FOR THE NEXT EMERGENCY

    You probably have an emergency plan for what to do if you’re at home with your family and you hear a tornado siren or see a warning on television. You probably have an emergency kit set up to make sure your kids have what they need. But what about your business? I’ve worked for decades helping Alabama businesses prepare for whatever lay ahead, and I want to share a few tips for being prepared for the next storm or tornado:
     
    GET ORGANIZED.
    Being prepared starts with gathering what’s critical: Your financial information, personal and medical information, mortgage statements, credit card statements, tax returns and W-2s. This may seem like too much, but if your home’s damaged and you need a loan, you might need proof of income for that application. Having everything organized and safe (or digitized) will save you a lot of time in the aftermath of a disaster. The FEMA Emergency Financial First Aid Kit, at FEMA. gov, has a checklist of which documents and forms you should have ready.
     
    REVIEW YOUR COVERAGE.
    I have had clients whose homes have been flooded, and their insurance didn’t cover it. You can’t go back and get flood coverage when you’ve got water up to your knees. Review the coverage you currently have for your home and business, and periodically discuss your options with your insurance company. You’ll also want to keep copies of all your policies in a safe place (and also online) so you can access them as soon as you need them.
     
    CREATE A BUSINESS EMERGENCY PLAN.
    Get your team together and start going through possible emergency scenarios. What would happen if we had to close for three days? What if we were without power? How would we notify our customers and our employees? Do we have a “call tree” for staff? Consider what would happen if a tornado struck in the middle of a business day. How would you keep everyone safe? Update these plans every quarter and do a more in-depth review every year.
     
    REACH OUT FOR HELP.
    After a storm, you may not know where to turn for help. Organizations like the American Red Cross will be there to help right away, but also know that you can reach out to your banker for longer-term financial solutions. When COVID hit, for example, we fielded a lot of calls from small businesses about what types of assistance were out there, including disaster loans from the Small Business Administration. Even if you don’t need a line of credit or a personal loan, your banker may be an important source of information.
     
    HELP OTHERS.
    You may not be able to bail out a neighbor’s flooded kitchen, but if you haven’t been personally affected by a storm, maybe you can donate supplies or funds to community organizations you trust, like the Central Alabama Community Foundation.
     
    MEET THE EXPERT
    Brian Blanks is Vice President, Market Manager at Valley Bank in Wetumpka. He has nearly two decades of experience in retail banking. Contact him at 334-478-6023.
     
    © 2021 Valley National Bank. Member FDIC. Equal Opportunity Lender. All Rights Reserved
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