Tornado damage in Seymour in 2017.

Iowans know all too well that natural disasters can strike at any time during any month and the Internal Revenue Service is urging us to plan ahead for the worst.

IRS spokesman Michael Devine says one of the first things to do to prepare for an emergency like a tornado, fire or flood is to create a disaster plan.  “This needs to be reviewed over time because your situation changes, whether in your personal life or in your business,” Devine says. “If you don’t have a plan, go to our website,, and there are disaster loss workbooks that you can download and they’ll give you a very good start.”

There is a host of important documents that Iowans need to keep in a secure location — which might just be in your kitchen.
“You need to know where your original documents are, your tax returns, your birth certificates, your marriage certificate, insurance policies, titles,” Devine says. “One of the best ways to do it is to put them in a double-sealed bag, two zip-lock bags, and put them at the bottom of your freezer.”

Photos after various disasters often show the heavy refrigerator remains in place when the rest of the house is in ruins. Safety deposit boxes are secure, but Devine says a bank may not be the best place to store a valuable document.  “Take a picture of it or scan it, put it on a flash drive or a CD, so you have access to it rather than having to worry about getting into the bank,” Devine says. “If you look at what’s happening in Louisiana, they may not have power for days or weeks and until the bank gets power, they can’t open the doors.”

Devine says you could also shoot videos of your possessions and email them to yourself just to have on hand for insurance purposes.