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From tornadoes to wildfires, our nation has seen many natural disasters in the past few years. In the state of Kansas alone, 40,000 acres and 26 structures have burned due to prolonged drought coupled with high temperature. Beyond the physical loss of homes and businesses, there is an emotional and financial challenge that develops when these unexpected events occur. Without proper preparation, a natural disaster could lead to bankruptcy.

Recently, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback proclaimed September Emergency Preparedness Month. Brownback held a press conference with members of the adjutant general’s office, Kansas Highway Patrol and other state officials that work as first responders.

The focus of the announcement was to encourage Kansans to be ready for when natural disaster strikes. The event offered useful tips on how to weather possible weather, fire and other disasters, including directing people to visit the informational website,

Among the bits of information that one may find at the site is guidance on ways to make sure that individuals and businesses are adequately insured against financial disaster. Because, as we all know, a disastrous event like a tornado or wildfire can be a financial tragedy for a family, especially if insurance coverage is not up to snuff.

At a time when many Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, a natural disaster can take a financially insecure family over the edge into insolvency. So disaster preparedness should also include financial preparedness, and adequate insurance coverage is a first line of defense.

If a natural disaster does push a family over the financial edge, debt relief can also be found in the form of Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can be used to help debtors get a fresh financial start. In most cases unsecured debt like credit cards and medical bills can be discharged in bankruptcy.

Determining whether bankruptcy is an appropriate strategy in any given situation, however, should be done with the help of an experienced legal professional.

Source: The Topeka Capital-Journal, “Brownback extols emergency preparedness,” Andy Marso, Sept. 7, 2012