Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Blog Series - DISASTER PREPAREDNESS & RECOVERY

 Don’t lose your business to a power outage, hacker disruption, fire, flood, earthquake or other disaster.

 A 2012 survey by Alibaba polled small-business owners to gauge how prepared they were to run their business if a natural disaster struck. The findings were alarming: 74% of American small businesses do not have a disaster preparedness plan; 84% of them are without natural disaster insurance.

Preparation, an Active emergency and later, Recovery. Sadly for many businesses, Preparation is the missing component that could have lead to a successful navigation of an active emergency and a graceful navigation of Recovery. More than half of all businesses affected by a disaster level event will not reopen their doors.  In this series we will dive into the three pillars and offer you guidance and routes of assistance to help you plan, prepare and act when the time comes for you to shepherd your business and your employees through an unforeseen (but not an un-planned for disaster)

There are immediate and cost effective ways to mitigate business interruptions whether they come from natural or man made disasters and the power outages, communications failures,and loss of productivity that follow.  Below you will find a brief, bulleted, suggestions list that we will explore more fully as this series progresses. 

I encourage you to share your thoughts, concerns and experiences with each other in the comments section. The wisdom gained by professionals in recent years, in reaction to myriad catastrophes,  has lead to an exponential sharing of knowledge. You may have derived the solution to a scenario through your hard won experience. Please share it.





Preparation:
Vital business records should be copied and saved on both the hard dive and on a backup storage medium at an offsite location at least 50 miles away from the main business site. Important documents such as personal and financial records can be stored in a password protected area in the Cloud or on a secure flash drive. Consider a fire and waterproof rated safe for original documents.

Have a “Recovery Communications” plan in place. Key employees can be assigned as spokespersons who will contact suppliers, creditors, other employees, customers, media and utility companies to get the word out that the business is still viable.


Create a “Disaster Survival Kit” The kit should include a durable flashlight, a portable radio,extra batteries, first aid supplies, nonperishable food, bottled water, a basic tool kit, plastic sheeting and garbage bags, cash, and a digital camera to take pictures of the property damage after the storm. Train as many individuals as possible in CPR and first aid.And support efforts in making sure your employees have these supplies at home as well.


The Pocket Response Plan (PReP™) is a concise document for recording essential information needed by staff in case of a disaster. Every person having a response-related assignment should carry the PReP™ with them at all time
(http://www.statearchivists.org/prepare/framework/prep.htm)


Program "In Case of Emergency" (I.C.E.) contacts into your cell phone and label them as such, so that first responders can contact those people for you if you are incapacitated or unable to use your phone. Inform your I.C.E. contacts of any medical issues or other special needs you may have that would be critical for emergency responders to know and act upon. Encourage your staff to follow suit.

 (On a personal note- this last one allowed me to give life saving directions to first responders when a student fell ill in my college library. Don't wait. Do this now)


Active Emergency:
Call the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
During a disaster, register yourself as "safe and well"
so that family and friends know of your well-being. You can also use the database to search for missing loved ones
(http://www.redcross.org/find-help/contactfamily/register-safe-listing).

Assigned spokespersons should activate communication plans.(keep in mind phones and text services may be overwhelmed or down) Floor Wardens should follow established protocols to ensure safe movements for on site employees. Be certain that vital documents and all engaged stakeholders (other employees, suppliers, creditors, customers, media and utility companies) are safe and or accessible.

Evacuate immediately if told to do so.
Authorities do not ask people to leave unless they truly feel lives may be in danger. Follow their advice. Download the FEMA app to find a map with open shelters and open FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers
(http://www.fema.gov/smartphone-app).

It may be impossible to gain access to web links in an active emergency so It's incumbent upon you to prepare.  That said, here are some useful links to help you gain the knowledge you require to keep or reopen your business in the aftermath. I suggest including these and other resources you may require on a portable "flash or jump" drive, backed up remotely in the "cloud" and or printed and saved in an accessible, off site location that is protected from hazards of flood, fire or further calamity.


Useful Links
Preparation
Prepare My Business.org: From SBA and Agility Recovery Solutions, the site offers downloadable tools and webinars on disaster preparedness and recovery plans http://www.preparemybusiness.org/

National Federation of Independent Business: http://www.nfib.com/business-resources/disaster

Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety: http://www.disastersafety.org/

Department of Homeland Security: http://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/prepare-my-business-emergency

CDC Preparedness for All Hazards: http://emergency.cdc.gov/hazards-all.asp

Red Cross Ready Rating: Measure & improve business disaster readiness http://www.readyrating.org/


Recovery
Local/State:
Helpline for New York State Residents: 1–888-769-7243

NY Rising Recovery Resources Center: http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/

NYS Office of Emergency Management Regional Map:
http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/about/index.cfm#OEM-regional-map

NY Hurricane Sandy Recovery Resources:
http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/event/sandy/documents/NY_Resource_List_v6.2.pdf

CDC Protect Yourself from Mold: www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/protect.asp

Replace birth, marriage, death documents: http://www.health.state.ny.us/vital_records/

NY Legal Help: http://www.mynewyorklegalhelp.com/hurricanesandynyassistance/

Federal:
USA.gov Hurricane Sandy Recovery: http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Weather/Hurricane/sandy.shtml

DisasterAssistance.gov: Website with all 62 programs that people and businesses can apply for after a
presidential disaster declaration
http://www.disasterassistance.gov/


FEMA: To apply for a disaster loan, applicants must register with FEMA by phone at
800-621-3362 or online http://www.fema.gov/assistance/index.shtm.
SBA Office of Disaster Assistance: Provides low interest disaster loans to individuals and businesses
to repair or replace property or assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster.
Phone: 202-205-6734:
http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/1/2462

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers disaster recovery guides for builders: http://huduser.org/portal/%20sandy.html
For additional disaster assistance resources, go to 

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