|Photo: Hurricane Isaac Aftermath. Credit: FEMA.|
FROM: U.S. FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
How to Replace Documents Lost in a Disaster
December 4, 2012
NEW YORK – One of the dire consequences of any disaster for many people is the loss of important documents. Often, such documents are needed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state emergency services in order to process assistance applications for those who suffered losses or damage to their homes and belongings.
If papers are gone – like birth certificates, Social Security cards, drivers’ licenses, tax records, etc. – New York state and FEMA are advising residents on how to recover them:
Drivers’ licenses: Visit any New York Department of Motor Vehicles office. To find an office nearby, log onto www.dmv.ny.gov/index.htm and click on "Replace License or ID."
Social Security cards: Call the U.S. Social Security office at 800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST. For TTY users the number is 800-325-0778, or log onto www.ssa.gov/ssnumber for more information.
Federal tax records: Call the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, or log onto www.irs.gov.
New York state tax records: For copies of returns, log onto www.tax.ny.gov/help/contact/how_to_reach.htm. Click on "Get a copy of my return" and fill in the application. You can also apply for a tax-filing and payment extension for those directly affected by Hurricane Sandy at this site.
For copies of your utility bills, bank records, insurance policies, mortgage payments and the like, call the appropriate firm and speak to a customer-service representative.
To prevent further loss of vital documents, place the originals or copies in a sealable plastic bag or other watertight container and secure that container where it is best protected and can easily be located. It is also a good idea to make copies of vital and important documents and mail them to a friend or relative you can trust to keep them safe and retrievable.