PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- As New Jersey recovers from damages suffered in Hurricane Floyd, disaster recovery officials are encouraging businesses to limit future losses by incorporating prevention measures when rebuilding.
"Mitigation, or prevention, is the cornerstone of emergency management, and support from the business community to make mitigation part of their business plan is essential to community well-being, " said Marshall Mabry, Hazard Mitigation Officer of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "Rather than building back to pre-disaster conditions after a disaster, only to have to rebuild again following a subsequent disaster; let's work together to find long-term solutions that create a stronger, more disaster-resistant community," he said.
At the most basic level, disaster preparation for businesses means taking steps to protect operations against hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding. An effective plan combines planning strategies, proper insurance coverage, allocation of resources and the establishment of prevention measures based on a risk assessment that protects staff, customers and assets.
For example, The Gafney-Kroese Electric Supply Company on Elizabeth Avenue in Rahway is next to the Elizabeth Avenue Bridge. Once, during a storm, the firm experienced several inches of flooding. As a result, they rebuilt to allow storage of stock 18" above floor level. This simple precaution dramatically reduced the firm's flood damage, and enabled them to return to normal operations more quickly.
In evaluating disaster preparations, Hazard Mitigation officials from the State of New Jersey and FEMA recommend:
- Identifying what potential risks could affect businesses during severe weather, and taking steps to reduce the likelihood of losses.
- Purchasing applicable and adequate insurance.
- Implementing prevention measures to minimize loss of jobs and business activity.
- Lining-up alternate vendors for essential supplies and equipment, and consider signing contracts to assure their availability.
- Encouraging and supporting local community prevention efforts that reduce the risk to infrastructures essential to the continued operation of businesses - such as electricity, water and roads - and those essential to employees, such as daycare centers and emergency response organizations.
- Promoting awareness of hazard risk and prevention solutions among employees, customers and the public.
Through the application of prevention techniques and practices, businesses can help ensure their own survival as well as the economic well-being of their communities.
"Emergency preparedness is everyone's job. Not just government agencies, but all sectors of society - service providers, businesses, civic and volunteer groups, industry associations, neighborhood associations and individual citizens," Mabry said.
Through Project Impact, FEMA is currently working with several New Jersey communities to establish a stronger federal, state and private business alliance to effectively prepare and respond to any emergency or disaster.
For more information about Hazard Mitigation or Project Impact, business owners can call 1-202-646-4600 or visit FEMA online at www.FEMA.gov