The 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on Friday is likely to have devastating consequences for the hardest-hit areas in Northeastern Japan. According to the Wall Street Journal, Japan is already looking at how to fund reconstruction to rebuild these areas. As with any natural disaster, you can bet that there will be a financial toll to the disaster, both for the country and for the individuals who are left to rebuild.
After all, our finances are so fragile that they can be devastated in one day. But for those who are left rebuilding after a natural disaster, where does that money go? If it goes out of your household in one day, it must go into someone else's pocket. Some of these jobs require years of experience, but when a disaster occurs, eager workers are usually needed to help. Let's check out a few types of workers who jump into action when disasters occur. (If you've been a victim, your losses may be deductible. Find out how, in Deducting Disaster: Casualty And Theft Losses.)
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1. Flood Clean Up Contractors
According to the National Weather Service, the approximate average damage due to flooding in the U.S. was $10.3 billion between 1999-2008. Taking out 2005's $48.3 billion Katrina and Rita blip, the nine-year average is still over $6 billion per year. This is adjusted for the effects of inflation in construction prices.
Cleanup is one essential job when a disaster hits any town. Hurricanes, floods and earthquakes leave families stuck waiting for insurance companies to begin the cleanup. Depending on the severity, crews could be on-location for weeks, as just one inch of water in a house can cause major damage in an average home. Carpets, flooring, demolition, drywall and sanitization all require a team of individuals to complete. (It is important to prepare for both large-scale and small-scale natural disasters so that, when the damage is done, you have the means to pick up the pieces. Check out Preparing For Nature's Worst.)
2. Environmental Disaster Cleanup Workers
The BP (NYSE:BP) oil spill cleanup was estimated to be $11.2 billion as of September 29, 2010. This includes shore cleanup, containment, relief well drilling, federal costs and claims paid, according to BP. Well drillers and engineers on the project had as much work as they could handle. Back on June 7, 2010, BP estimated 2,600 vessels involved in the effort, which included tugs, skimmers and barges.
3. Insurance Adjusters
The insurance companies need individuals to give proper estimates on the damage and the potential costs. Adjusters go in before the repairs start, and gather evidence, research the costs, and approve repairs. In some cases, public adjusters can also be hired by the claimants as a second opinion. The two options are to do this as a second job, usually in the same field they currently work or as a full-time staff adjuster. For example, a mechanic with his own shop could also be an independent adjuster, but using his current experience and obtaining a claims adjusters license (if required in the state).
4. Hail Storm Chasers
In one day, the right hail storm over the wrong city destroys every skyward surface on every car. There are hail storm chasers with the right tools and a portable work station following the insurance claims. Paintless dent repair (PDR) can cost in the hundreds of dollars per panel. If this is cheaper than the auto body replacing the part, insurance companies prefer it.
Hail storm chasers need to be able to travel on a moment's notice, and the competition makes sure they put in long hours when they get there.
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Identify the Need
Many of these big disaster expenses have been identified and insured against, but the insurance company is going to pay a large amount to someone. One person's set back could also be several workers' incomes. Identify the need and fill it if you can. (If you can't predict the future, you'll need to plan ahead to protect your assets from the impact of major world events. See A Disaster-Protection Plan For Your Portfolio.)