LAREDO, Texas -- 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 state affected many Texas businesses. With this current disaster risk in mind, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) urge business owners and managers to increase their chance of surviving this or any other type of event in the future by being ready before disasters happen.
"When businesses survive, they help the whole community recover from a disaster," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Brad Harris.
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 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 (SBA) also has a preparedness guide for businesses at www.sba.gov; search for "disaster planning guide." SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private, nonprofit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts, and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For information about SBA programs, applicants may call (800) 659-2955 (TTY 1-800-977-8339).
Planning ahead also includes purchasing insurance, but not all perils are covered by typical commercial business policies. The SBA also recommends obtaining Business Interruption Insurance because most insurance policies do not cover lost income.
Flooding is a risk for many Texas 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 advised that commercial property policies do not include flood coverage," said FEMA Floodplain Management and Insurance Group Supervisor George Salinas.
The source for flood insurance is the NFIP. Businesses can find insurance agents who sell NFIP policies at www.floodsmart.gov.
For more information on the Hurricane Alex disaster recovery, browse the features on this FEMA Web site at www.fema.gov/hazard/hurricane/2010/alex/index.shtm. User...