Thursday, June 23, 2011

What is Most Important?

A month ago, when the tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, Dr. Weagley wrote a financial tip about being prepared (


Today I would like to discuss a similar theme as residents of Minot, South Dakota, are dealing with potentially serious flooding ( As of the time I was writing this Tip, 12,000 residents had been evacuated and some areas of the town are predicted to get five feet of water or more from the Souris River, which runs through the middle of the town. One report that I heard on National Public Radio yesterday said that some areas are predicted to get water as high as the roof life and possibly completely engulfing other homes.


On Wednesday as my wife and I were discussing this story and the evacuations that had to happen rather quickly we asked ourselves what we would take if we only had 24 hours and you knew that everything else in our home would most likely be ruined by the floodwaters. We stayed up for a while discussing what we would take and here are some of the things we discussed:

·         A tent and sleeping bags

·         Blankets (especially if the evacuation happened in the winter)

·         Photo albums

·         Laptop/computer

·         Religious books

·          A few changes of clothing for everyone

·         Food & water

·         First Aid Kit

·         Flashlight and batteries

·         Emergency Preparedness Kits

·         Cash

·         Important document file

·         A few special pieces of art (one my grandpa made, and one my wife’s grandparents had in their home)

·         Cash

·         A couple of books

·         A few select toys for the kids

I imagined us packing up our van with these things then closing our door, knowing that we may never be able to return to the house, that we would feel sadness about the things we were losing, but on the other hand I would feel grateful that we had some warning and could gather up a few things, but most of all grateful that our family would be together and safe.


It is a good idea to think about these types of things and ask yourself “Am I prepared for a disaster?” Assess where you are currently in your emergency preparedness, and what you can do to better prepare.


It is also a good idea to ask yourself “What would I take with me if I had to evacuate in 24 hours?” I challenge to sit down and write a list of what you would take with you. Please visit our blog at and share your list – do you have some of the same items as my list? What is on your list that isn’t on mine?


To touch a bit more on the financial side, it is important to have cash and an emergency fund available that you could use for shelter, gas and food. Also, be sure your insurance is up-to-date and know what is covered (flood is NOT normally covered by homeowners insurance – you have to buy flood insurance separately). Have a good home inventory and keep all your important documents in a safe location. For more details about these things see Dr. Weagley’s Tip about Being Prepared:


As I was re-reading Dr. Weagley’s post I decided to quote him to close out this week’s tip as I felt it echoes exactly what I wanted to say:


“Finally, nothing can prepare us for the aftermath of a disaster the caliber of the tornado that hit Joplin, New Orleans and Katrina, or Japan's recent earthquake and tsunami. I, however, do know something about the human spirit. If we are faced with disaster, we will be challenged but we will prevail. It is what we do. We survive to grow and to love, yet again. Being prepared just makes it easier for that human spirit to blossom anew.”


The people of Minot will prevail, and in the meantime our thoughts are with them.


Ryan H. Law, M.S., AFC

Department of Personal Financial Planning

Office for Financial Success Director

University of Missouri Center on Economic Education Director


239E Stanley Hall

University of Missouri

Columbia, MO 65211


573.882.9211 (office)

573.884.8389 (fax)



Anonymous said...

Don't forget prescription medication.

Rob W. said...

Good call. Also, make sure you have a lighter or a good supply of dry matches. Fire is pretty important in the worst of situations.