We hear about natural disasters all the time, including things like tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes (although these are pretty rare since they only occur in certain places), floods, hurricanes, etc. Many people are like myself and think along the lines of “well, if I move out of tornado alley (this is the middle states of the US, going from north to south to include Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas on up) I will be safer.” What is not as often realized, however, is that these natural disasters happen pretty much everywhere.

As an example, if you wanted to move to an area along the coast to get rid of the tornadoes, now you have hurricanes. In the case of California, there are earthquakes. If you took off across the seas and went to Hawaii, there are volcanoes. Pretty much anywhere you go, there will be at least some type of natural disaster that could happen. Even if it is not one of those listed above, it could be things like the locusts swarms that destroy crops. The fact is, the mentality of getting away from it all is not viable. Even if you found a place that has no chances of anything happening, then you have to account for moving and leaving everything (and everyone) behind. For example, what happens with your job? Family? While these may not be too much of a problem for some people, they are major ones for others.

The focus should therefore be transferred to choosing a place that you like, accepting the fact that disasters could happen anytime. Once you get your mentality in place that this is just the way it is, you can move on to preparing for the possibilities that face you.

Accepting Reality

The reality is that while things might not (or likely will not) happen where you live, you never know. Once you have fully accepted this, you are ready to move on. Accepting it, though, is not just saying “I get that these things might happen.” It means realizing that not only might they happen, but they might change your life forever. Good things could happen to you as a result (for example roofers, home builders and contractors after a lot of buildings have been damaged, leading to enhanced revenue) or bad things can happen (loss of a house, vehicle, family member, life, etc.).

When it really comes down to it, you can not live a normal life and still be in absolute safety, especially from natural disasters. It would be possible to live under a mountain or something, but even then there could be problems due to things that are happening above the ground, or even dealing with tectonic plates moving around.

A Necessary Evil

Something many do not quite understand is that natural disasters are really a sort of “necessary evil.” This means that they are something that are bad for us (usually), but they are required to sustain life here. For example, volcanoes are due to a build-up of molten lava being released from the earth. If these did not happen, we would be facing much worse problems, like the earth completely exploding due to the amount of pressure that would be pushing from the inside. Look at it as being like a balloon. You can keep filling it with air, but if you do not have anywhere for the air to go because the balloon is sealed, you will eventually cause it to blow up. The same would happen to the earth.

Another big thing is lightning. It strikes houses, people, animals, etc. and does a lot of damage, but it is also required for converting some of the earth's gases. Without it we would still end up in the same problem as before, without being able to really sustain life. In fact, lightning is so important that in large aquariums there are generators that create man made lightning strikes to keep everything balanced. Those are a lot safer since they are controlled, of course, but they help show that lightning is a necessary part of life.

Tornadoes and hurricanes are something that have benefits that are not as easily seen, like sending planting seeds and such to other locations (kind of like the wind and bees do with pollen). I really do not know if there are any other benefits to it than that, other than the fact that they come from a mixture between hot and cold air (so maybe they are needed in that they help with something related to seasons?).

Earthquakes are due to the moving of the tectonic plates, which (as far as I know) has no real benefit to us, but it does create mountains!

Living Through Aftermath

If you have been affected by a major disaster like a tornado that does a lot of damage (not all of them do, and actually most do not), you will likely be devastated by it. Some people end up going through fear of it happening again, others have more fear about what they lost that can not ever be replaced (like photos), and still others are stunned or in shock as a result. It is a natural human instinct to let this bother us, but the best thing you can do (for your health, both mental and physical) is to try and make the best of it. While this definitely does not mean that you should not be sad because of what happened, it also means that you should not take it out on others or let it cause you to become a hermit, afraid of the unknown.

Most towns should have support groups to assist you with coping with the event you witnessed. If you are having problems finding a group, you can check online or go to a chamber of commerce. If that still is not helping, public service people can usually help, such as police officers, firemen, or even hospitals. If you want to get real assistance on a regular basis, you can also go to a psychologist, who should be able to help you work through your feelings.

Some people find one on one psychology to be the most beneficial, while others are more comfortable with group therapy instead. The main thing is that you need to explore the options and find the one that fits your personality best. Allowing these problems to stay bottled up will only make them worse, and you will cause more problems in the long run by doing it.

If you do not wish to talk to someone in person, because of anxiety or because you want to remain anonymous, there are many call centers that can help. The person on the other side of the line will know nothing about you other than what you wish to share, so you are free to let them know as little or as much about yourself as you want. This helps make some people more comfortable, but for others a more personal approach is needed. If you are not sure which is better for you, you can always give both of them a try and see how you respond. The only person that knows you well is yourself. Others are only able to help you if you are willing to work with them to resolve your problems.

Insurance and Other Things

After being attacked by a natural disaster, you will often find that you have damage to your property. This could include cars, trees, your house itself, or even things that you have out in your yard. The last thing most people want to do after the event has occurred is sit around trying to figure out how to claim everything for the insurance company, but it is very important. The faster you get your claim in, the faster it will get responded to, and the faster you can take care of any repairs or replacements that are needed.

A big thing to realize with this is that the insurance companies will not pay the full price of things. As an example, if you had a trampoline out in your back yard and it was completely demolished, they will want to know how old it is. The price that they value it at is going to be less than you originally paid, as they will be basing their value on the depreciated cost. If it costs $100 and is expected to last 5 years and you have already had it for 4 years, for example, the depreciated cost will be around $20 for it. Is this enough to go out and buy another replacement? Definitely not. But the issue is if they were to give the full value, your 5 year trampoline would now be lasting 9 years (4 that you have used it, plus the 5 of the new one), and the insurance company would have been the one that paid to extend its life. As one can imagine, this is not something they want to do, and it is understandable.

Before an event has even struck, you should begin preparing. There is a lot of paperwork involved usually, and the insurance companies will want documented evidence showing that you owned the items you are claiming. Receipts go a long way towards helping your case, as they show not only that you own the items in question, but also prove when they were purchased. In the absence of receipts (or even if you do have them), pictures of everything is also very beneficial. They help show ownership as well, plus they also help to show condition. The more up to date the images are the better, though it is likely asking too much to keep updated pictures of all major things you own.

Keep all of your documentation in a specific area that is safe. This allows you to quickly and easily retrieve it if it is necessary, and since you already have the listing and other proof, you have knocked out the hardest part of the insurance claim. This will cause the filing to feel a lot less stressful, along with allow you to get it done faster. Keep in mind that when a disaster strikes there are many others that are facing problems as well. If you can get in your claim before most others do, you should be able to beat the rush. But this requires planning ahead of time and ensuring you have everything you will need.

Small Damages

When you figure out how much damage was done to your property, you will want to evaluate what it is worth and what you can expect to get back from the insurance company in return. Just for a guesstimate (as you never really know), take the value of the item if you were to buy it today (not the value you purchased it for originally) and divide it by the months you have owned it. Subtract that amount from the new purchase price and you have an estimate of what you can look forward to.

Once you have gotten an idea of what to look forward to, you are ready for the next step: determining if it is even worth claiming. A big problem with insurance companies (and this includes all types, not just home owner's) is that when a claim is put in, they will almost always increase your monthly premiums. This is because at that point you have shown that you have become a liability. Was it your fault that the tornado hit your house? No. But the mentality behind the insurance company is that if it hit your house once and did a certain amount of damage, it will happen again in the future. Because of this, they need to earn more money from you to help compensate for what they are paying out. If they did not do this, they would end up going bankrupt due to the big liabilities, and neither you nor the insurance company wants that to happen.

It is hard to determine how much your insurance may go up as a result of the damage your property sustained. Sometimes it can be nothing, or a negligible amount, and other times it can raise it up by a lot. Some factors that likely play in to this are how long you have been with the insurance company, how many other claims you have filed with them, and possibly even where the home is located (in that some places are seen as being more dangerous than others). Even if you call the insurance company and ask how much a claim will increase your premiums by, they usually will not be able to answer that until they have someone come out to check everything out. And since they require you to put in your claim prior to doing that, it would be too late. In essence, whether or not you claim is really going to be a gamble. You can save money by claiming but you can also lose money (in the form of higher monthly or yearly premiums).

The best thing you can do is to look at what you expect to get back from the insurance company, deduct a bit of it (say 15% or so), and then determine whether or not it is worth the risk. If you decide that it is not, because the cost is low (say a thousand or even a couple thousand dollars), you will want to avoid the insurance company and take care of the repairs yourself. If, on the other hand, you find that half of your house was destroyed or you lose a significant amount of your property, you may decide that the amount you will be charged will be less than what you will get back immediately.

Look At the Bright Side

While you can look at the negatives surrounding the incident, you can also look at the positives. While it may be tough to do, it is well worth it in that a positive outlook on things will help make you feel better. This in turn will also make others around you feel better, and it just helps make everything go by a lot smoother. Things could always be worse than they are, and that is something I am sure to keep in my mind all the time, regardless of what happens. No matter what it is, someone else has it worse.


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