Katrina, Joplin, Japan, Haiti…the recent years have brought us several natural disasters both at home and abroad. The WBDC extends our thoughts and prayers to every victim, every survivor and their families.
Small businesses have a particularly thorny task on their hands in trying to reopen after devastations such as these obliterate their location, as well as the infrastructure that is necessary to rebuild. While most businesses do not experience this extreme level of destruction, damage on a smaller scale such as a burst pipe, severed phone or power lines, widespread illness, flood or fire can often cause just as much heartache and headaches if a business is not properly prepared.
“Small businesses that don’t have a plan in place generally don’t survive after a disaster, whether it’s a flood or a tornado. We see that anywhere from 40-60 percent of those that are hit like that simply don’t come back to business,” said David Paulison, former executive director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
PrepareMyBusiness.org, an online organization dedicated to educating small businesses in the best practices in preparing for disaster, admonishes every small business owner to test their contingency plan to ensure its ability to work seamlessly in one of a business’ most vulnerable moments. The site explains that business owners should know what to test, where to test, how to test and who should participate in the testing of your disaster contingency plan.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a fact sheet on their website regarding the loans that are available for disaster-stricken businesses. The fact sheet also has a frequently asked questions section that addresses many of the concerns business owners may have about disaster recovery.
Karen Thomas, president of Oxford Health Care, which was affected by the recent tornado in Joplin, MO, sums it up well in Agility Recovery Solutions’ article Disaster Struck, Now What? – “When people think about [making an emergency preparedness plan], they think, ‘how can you plan for every emergency?’ The answer is that you can’t. When an emergency happens, you’ll have to adapt, but if you have a plan in place, adapting will take minutes, versus hours or days trying to figure out what to do.”
Kristin Travis is Program Assistant at the WBDC.