MOORHEAD, Minn. -- One-fourth of all businesses that close because of a disaster never reopen, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety. But businesses that have a disaster preparedness plan - and implement it - typically have less damage, loss and downtime than those that do not.
The recent flooding in the Red River Valley affected hundreds of Minnesota businesses. With this current disaster risk in mind, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) urge business owners and managers to increase their chance of surviving this or any other type of event by being ready before disasters happen.
"When businesses survive, they help the whole community recover from a disaster," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Michael H. Smith.
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. FEMA's Private Sector Division serves as a central point of information and collaboration between federal disaster response/recovery efforts and the private sector - businesses, associations, for-profits, academic institutions and other non-governmental organizations.
The U.S. Small Business Administration also has a preparedness guide for business at www.sba.gov; search for "disaster planning guide." The SBA provides federal disaster assistance for businesses in designated counties in a disaster declaration. SBA disaster loan assistance provides low-interest loans up to $2 million for physical and economic disaster-related losses for businesses of all sizes.
Planning ahead also includes purchasing insurance, but not all perils are covered by typical commercial business policies. Flooding is a risk for many Minnesota 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 FEMA Hazard Mitigation Branch Director Mike Klitzke.
The source for flood insurance is the NFIP. Businesses can find insurance agents who sell NFIP policies at www.floodsmart.gov.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.