I spent the week at meetings in NYC where I heard from firms who experienced 911 and Superstorm Sandy, and it occurred to me I should ask Gary his advice about things he wished he'd prepared ahead of time. This is what he said:
Hey Cathy, good questions. For one, I had always heard to videotape your possessions, room to room. Had actually done that MANY years ago on VHS, but that was like 15+ years ago. This is, of course, for insurance purposes, the inside contents part of a policy. We had to go through each room mentally and list what we could recall.
Keep important papers in a bank box! We left our house 5 minutes or less before we were hit--make sure you have wallet, purse with you. Identification was required for many days afterward to get back into the neighborhood. I did have my wallet as we left.
Always keep your insurance paid and up to date. And have the policy enough to replace what you lost.
While our cell phone service was out for hours and sporadic afterward, make sure you have a phone with you. These may seem obvious but when minutes are between you and death, obviously vital.
Also, have a bag with a change of clothes prepared, with emergency items like bottled water, flashlight, personal hygiene, etc. Perhaps kept in the car or closet. And wear comfortable shoes, I left the house wearing house shoes--that is all I had, the clothes on my back and no shoes.
Have a plan ahead of time, where to go or meet if coming from different directions.
Also, carry emergency cash as power will be out and keep gas in your tank.