Mail and Contacts Disruption: What to do

*Important Steps That can Help

*Use at own risk as these are only suggestions and situations can very greatly in disasters.

When your mail gets disrupted during disasters there are some basic things that can help, such as setting up automatic bill pay online or by phone, calling to pay your bills and contacting a nearby unaffected post office in your area to see if mail it being diverted there. If you don't have such a bill pay setup, get a small paper notebook handy, write down the names of all the bill companies you can remember and you may be able to use toll free information to find their numbers. If you can't remember or lost your credit cards, you can call them and give them your social security number to let them locate you. BE CAREFUL NEVER to give any personal info via email as scammers can fake websites and or phone info, even fake caller id. Contact companies directly yourself by whatever means necessary

Going on the internet via a Smartphone if you still have cell service or can find a wi-fi Hot Spot to contact family and friends via social media as Facebook, Twitter and general email to see where everyone is as Red Cross facilites may be overwhelmed. If you don't have any cell service or internet, posting a picture of where you are at a location that is visible in the main part of your town, especially if you spot a billboard where posters have been placed, you may find where someone is. Be sure when posting to just use your picture and first name only and the shelter you are at to help reduce risk of identity theft. Family knows who you are.

Keep a battery powered radio handy and check announcements that may provide additonal information that may be of help in connecting with those you have been misplaced from during disaster as well as where an emergency mail facility may have been set up. It is also very handy to have a CB radio to see what you can find out in your area.

Conserve battery power on cell phone and try to limit calls and emails. You have no idea where an open library power source may be and going on media sites on a smart phone may drain the power of the phone much faster. If you prepare in advance for an option of a portable windup flashlight charger that can recharge your cell phone, this is a must to have. Google or check a local sporting goods store ahead of time that can keep you on the cell grid when the power is down in your area and you need to roam for a working cell tower.

If you have relocated to a new location, you may want to consider general delivery if you are not planning to stay over a month. If you plan to stay longer then you may consider a 6 month post office setup so you can contact friends and billing companies to get your mail forwarded to where you are currently. Addtional tips and broader topics can be found at the FFIEC - Lessons Learned from Katrina website.

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