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Natural disasters can hurt people’s credit scores for years afterward

Long after the debris has been cleared, natural disasters have a lasting effect on those who are left to pick up the pieces.

It can take years for people’s finances to recover, according to a new report from the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank.

The report examined credit-bureau data for communities that were hit by a natural disaster from 2011 through the summer of 2014.

The Urban Institute identified these communities by looking for ZIP codes where at least one household had applied for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individuals and Households Program.

“The combination of devastating natural disasters with financially fragile families can be a recipe for not only short-term financial hardship, but also long-term declines in financial health,” the report’s authors wrote.

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