Don't Leave Home Without Them???Must-Have Financial Documents When Disaster Strikes

Hurricane Fay is just the latest in a long string of natural disasters that have wrecked havoc on people's lives over the last few months. Hurricanes, devastating California wildfires, terrible flooding in the mid-West--we've all gotten a good reminder that natural disasters can strike anywhere, anytime.

Having lived through two hurricanes ourselves, we know good preparation is critical. But beyond your standard stockpile of food, flashlights and other emergency items, we want to help you be prepared for the financial side of a disaster.

We hope you never need this information, but it will be invaluable if you ever get that knock on your door that it's time to evacuate or find yourself dealing with the aftermath of a disaster. Let's look at the critical documents you must have ready in case of an emergency.

# 1 Keep Your Financial Documents Safe

For all important documents, it's critical that you keep them in a safe, secure and easily reachable location. We recommend you keep one copy in your home in a watertight container in a secure spot. If you have a fire-proof or built-in safe, that's ideal. Keep these documents all together in a small enough container that you can grab and take with you in case of an evacuation.

It's also a good idea to keep a second set of these documents in a safe-deposit box. That way, you are covered if the copy in your home is destroyed. But can also get to them if for some reason you can't access your safe deposit box (for example, if your bank is damaged and is closed in the days following a disaster).