WACO, Texas -- Restoring business is an important part of Texas? recovery from recent severe storms, flooding, and tornadoes. Businesses that plan for disaster before the storm generally have less damage, economic loss and down time than those that do not. It's a good reason, say federal and state officials, to include disaster preparations in the normal course of business planning.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Governor?s Division of Emergency Management (GDEM) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) endorse disaster readiness for businesses -- not only as a means to reduce damage and loss but also as a way to help a community recover after a disaster.
State Coordinating Officer Joan Haun said, "Businesses that reopen quickly after a disaster not only serve as engines of recovery, they also help to restore a sense of normalcy to the community."
Businesses should consider several elements in preparing for a disaster. Not only is it important to protect the staff, building, data and company inventory during a damaging event, it is also critical to prepare a plan to continue operations in case most everything is destroyed. A good plan may include provisions to relocate to a pre-identified site, retrieve data (including employee, customer and vendor records), and a way to operate efficiently with a smaller staff of key individuals.
Federal Coordinating Officer Kenneth Clark said, "One of the biggest problems businesses face in the aftermath of a natural disaster is a diminished workforce. Unless it is family owned, businesses can't operate without a staff. Good planning could help avoid this problem."
There are Internet resources available to help with disaster planning for businesses.
FEMA provides a step-by-step approach to emergency planning, response and recovery for companies of all sizes in its Emergency Management Guide for Business and Industry, a checklist for business recovery, and other "how to" resources at www.fema.gov/business .
The Institute for Business and Home Safety, www.ibhs.org/business_protection/, developed the Open for Business Toolkit, which provides the means to develop both property protection and business continuity plans for small business owners.
An important part of any business plan should be insurance to cover loss and damage, if it occurs, and under what conditions, such as flooding, ice storms or tornadoes, it will be paid. A good Internet resource for business insurance information is the Insurance Information Institute at www.iii.org/individuals/business.
"One of the benchmarks of a community's recovery after a disaster is the number of businesses back in operation," said Clark. "Those who prepare an effective disaster plan - and that includes a plan to continue operations in the aftermath of widespread destruction - will be able to contribute the most to a community's recovery."
Homeowners, renters, and business owners, who sustained losses in the designated counties from the June 16-August 3 severe weather, may apply for assistance by registering online at www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing- and speech-impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal government's primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, bu...