Before Disaster Strikes

​Before Disaster Strikes:  Safeguard! Communicate! Document! Make sure your important documents are safe and accessible

After a hurricane or other natural disaster, you will need easy access to your important documents for many reasons, including to make insurance claims, register with FEMA and receive other assistance. Also, it is easier to keep your documents with you and safe than it is to replace them after a disaster.

Important documents include:

  • Insurance policies

  • Wills

  • Deeds

  • Drivers license

  • State ID

  • Passports

  • Mortgage and property tax statements

  • Birth certificates

  • One or more bank and credit card statements


You should put your important documents in one waterproof, portable location (like a sealed plastic file box) and be prepared to bring them with you if evacuate.

Create backup copies of everything!

You should review your insurance policies and know what is covered and who to call to make a claim BEFORE the disaster strikes.


Make a list of important phone numbers and emails and keep them with your documents.

Make sure you know who your insurance agent is and who to call to make a claim.

If you are a renter and you need to evacuate, communicate with your landlord about your plans and when you will return.

If you are unable to make it to work, communicate with your employer.

Consider prescheduling a visit with a contractor that you trust.

Document everything!

Keep copies of all emails that you send regarding the storm and your preparations.

Pictures, pictures, pictures! Take pictures of your home, vehicles and your other personal property before the storm. Pictures help prove what you own, and show the extent of your damage by providing a picture of the condition of your home before the storm. They can also document your efforts to prepare for the storm.

Need help?

Legal Aid of North Carolina may be able to help you replace lost documents. Call our statewide toll-free Helpline at 1-866-219-5262 or apply online to see if we can help.