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Lessons for business resiliency in 140 characters or less

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Hurricane Sandy, the recent, deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma and the Boston Marathon bombing are stark reminders that businesses and commercial and industrial properties are susceptible to a wide variety of emergencies.  Hurricanes, extensive flooding, blizzards, ice storms, fires and utility disruptions are just some of the emergencies that can impact a business’ operations, bringing fresh urgency to the need for business preparedness and resiliency efforts.

Such emergencies and disasters have the potential to cripple or even destroy businesses – of all sizes and scope – that are unprepared for such events; studies show that 40% of businesses that do not have emergency plans in place do not re-open after a major incident.

Having businesses that are resilient to emergencies ultimately helps local communities and citizens recover from disasters faster – which is why business resilience is so important to FEMA.   Engaging an entire community in disaster preparedness, response and recovery activities is a main responsibility of FEMA’s Private Sector Liaisons, who work in all ten FEMA regions across the country.  As the Private Sector Liaison for FEMA Region I (which covers six states and 10 Indian Tribes in New England), I arranged for our regional office to participate in the “Weathering the Storm: How Properties Can Prepare and Respond” event that NAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, hosted on May 31, 2013. 

The event focused on the important steps commercial property owners should take to prepare their properties and protect their tenants – a great topic that doesn’t get talked about enough. It also featured a variety of experts who discussed topics including the lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy, developing a storm preparedness plan, insurance impacts and legal challenges, and “preparing buildings for tomorrow.”  

With support from NAIOP Massachusetts executives, FEMA Region I Acting Administrator Paul Ford and the directors of our National Preparedness, Hazard Mitigation and External Affairs divisions, a team of FEMA experts spent several hours at the event, sharing literature with and talking to attendees interested in learning how FEMA can help them protect their business, property and tenants. 

To help capture the insights from the speakers, we live tweeted the event from the Region 1 Twitter account (@femaregion1).  So rather than rehashing all of the lessons they shared, here are the bite-sized messages posted during the event – some great tips for businesses: 

  • Vivien Li, President, The Boston Harbor Association:
  • Alfred Scaramelli, Senior Vice President, Beacon Capital Partners, LLC:
  • John Brandstetter, Managing Director, The Brandstetter Group:
  • Peter See, Boston Properties

The event in Boston last week is a great model for other communities to follow. It was successful because it provided a platform for business owners to share their stories from disasters in a way that others could apply to their own companies.  Preparing for emergencies makes good business sense. The better prepared your business and employees are and the more resilient your business is, the faster your operations can recover – helping not only your business but your community as well.

I’m thankful that NAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, allowed FEMA to participate. I hope other communities will learn from this event and business owners who weren’t there will take the lessons to heart!

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Last Updated: 
06/10/2013 - 09:06

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