CHICAGO, Ill. -- The recent flooding in northeastern Illinois affected thousands of businesses. With this fresh reminder of natural disaster risk in mind, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) urge business owners and managers to increase their chance of surviving this type of event by being ready before disasters happen.
Overall, at least one-fourth of all U.S. businesses that close because of a disaster never reopen, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety. Businesses that have a disaster preparedness plan and implement it typically have less damage, loss, and downtime than those that do not.
"When businesses survive, they help the whole community recover from a disaster," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Libby Turner.
A business disaster preparedness plan should include measures to protect the organization's staff, building, data and inventory during a damaging event. It's critical to plan for continuing operations if the worst happens and the main business premises are unusable due to disaster damage. A sound plan typically includes a pre-identified site where the business can temporarily relocate; means to retrieve data, including employee, customer and vendor records; and a method for operating effectively with a smaller staff of key individuals.
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 in the FEMA publication library at www.fema.gov. Additional preparedness information can be found at the Department of Homeland Security's site: www.ready.gov/business. The U.S. Small Business Administration also has a preparedness guide for business at www.sba.gov; search for "disaster planning guide".
Planning ahead also includes purchasing insurance. But not all perils are covered by typical commercial business policies. Flooding is a risk for many Illinois businesses, even those not located in the most high risk areas. One-fourth of all claims to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) come from locations that were not designated as high risk. "Business owners should be warned that commercial business owners' policies usually provide no coverage for flood damage," said Ron Lansverk of the NFIP.?
The source for flood insurance is the NFIP. Businesses can find insurance agents who sell NFIP policies at www.floodsmart.gov.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.