The Leathermans felt fortunate they had insurance, since their house and its belongings were deemed a total loss. That’s why it’s important to have an adequate amount of insurance coverage on a house and to document its contents.
“We used to tell people to take a video of items in their home and put a copy of that tape in a safe-deposit box. But now, there are applications for a smartphone so that you can store information online by posting videos or voice-to-text documents,” Smith says.
After taking inventory of the possessions in your home (or rental) and making a record of it to be able to claim reimbursement in the case of loss, it’s also important to have vital records and documents stored in a safe-deposit or fire- and flood-safe box. Documents can include: birth, death and marriage certificates; a will; Social Security card and records; medical records, including prescription information; insurance policies, including life, health, disability, long-term care, auto, and homeowners or renters; checking and savings account statements; car titles and registrations; and antique photographs, picture negatives and/or photo CDs.
Steve Leatherman says they lost most of their family pictures in the tornado, but he has access to scanned digital images of original photographs. The Leathermans rebuilt their home and moved into it in April 2012. The storm room continues to be an essential part of their home.
“It’s wise for us to stock our new storm room with a weather radio, water and non-perishable food, in case something that shouldn’t happen to us again — does happen,” Steve says. “Although I wouldn’t wish this on anybody, dealing with the aftermath of this tornado has brought our community closer and helped us to realize what’s most important in life.”