This Is How I Protected My Money While Living Through Epic Hurricanes - TheStreet

Since Hurricane Irma hit land on the Caribbean isle of the now mostly uninhabitable Barbuda on September 6, damage in the storm's wake has been historically extensive. In fact, the storm has been so huge that the blows it's been delivering to the Caribbean region are registering on seismometers that usually measure earthquakes.

With a hurricane of that force heading to Florida, state residents should take the little time they have to prep financially for the storm. With the clock ticking, these money-prep steps should come first.

Set up direct deposit - Floridians on the job should set up direct deposit so that they can have access to their pay even if their workplace is closed, says Alayna Pehrson, digital marketing strategist at Best Company in Provo, Utah. "Workers who receive pay via a paper check have a harder task because they may have to ask their employer to pay them early," Pehrson says. "Otherwise, if they are paid in a paper check, they may not be able to pick up their earnings until the following week and possibly later."

Get some cash - With Hurricane Harvey, many Houston area ATMs were no longer functional, because they were underwater. "It may be the case that similar problems occur in some places with Irma," says Pehrson. "Even if an ATM is functional, it may not be replenished with cash for some time. People should take the time now to get some cash. If they want to get more than $300, then they may have to make a point of going to an ATM on consecutive days."

Make bill payment arrangements - even if you can't pay - Contact your credit union and bank to discuss what to do if bills cannot be paid on time due to the natural disaster (go through a variety of circumstances and make them aware), Pehrson adds. "Also, if you pay rent, make sure to contact your landlord before the natural disaster occurs to make them aware of the possible scenario of you not paying rent on time due to difficult circumstances," Pehrson says.

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For fastest flood recovery, have your insurance ready to roll - If you're a homeowner and have flood insurance, you'll want to be first in line to talk with contractors to help you restore your home, as contractors want to work with those that have their insurance ready to go, says Jerry Linebaugh, founder of JLine Financial in Denham Springs, La. "If you do have a flooded home that you own and only have flood insurance for structural repair, you could use some of your own money to engage contractors as soon as the waters recede and then work with your insurance company and mortgage company to get reimbursed," he says.

Preserve key financial documents - If you're keeping your financial documents at home, it's best to place them in a plastic bag and keep them stored in a fireproof safe box, says Leslie Tayne, a financial and debt attorney with Tayne Law Group, PC in New York City. "Wrapping your documents in a plastic bag will protect them from water damage," Tayne says. "If flooding is predicted, keep your fireproof safe box on a high shelf. Make extra copies of your documents and keep them securely stored offsite in places such as your office or with a family member that you trust and who is not in the path of a natural disaster should anything happen to the documents you are keeping at your home."

Go digital and keep documents safe - Another way to protect your important documents is to scan and upload copies to a secured cloud storage in case you need to reference account numbers or policy information, Tayne notes. "Having the ability to access account numbers can save a lot of time with replacing lost documents," she says. "If possible, keep insurance policies, wills and other valuable documents in a safety deposit box at your bank instead of at home during the storm."

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Editors' pick: Originally published Sept. 8.