Disaster Prep Makes Sense for Small Businesses

Lincoln – A survey commis­sioned by Nationwide insurance company in 2015 found that three out of four small business owners do not have a disaster recovery plan in place. But more than half of those surveyed said it would take at least three months to re­cover from a disaster.

In Nebraska, more than 1,000 businesses were affected by the storm that resulted in a major di­saster declaration in March. While still assessing damage from the recent spring floods, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency urge busi­ness owners and managers to pre­pare now for the next disaster.

“The sooner the private sec­tor bounces back after a disaster, the quicker the whole commu­nity recovers,” said Constance C. Johnson-Cage of FEMA, who is the federal coordinating officer for the March storm. “Survivors need to feed their family, fill their gas tank and get back to work.”

Businesses with a disaster pre­paredness plan have less dam­age, loss and downtime, said Earl Imler of NEMA, who serves as the state’s coordinating officer.

“Better yet, businesses that can weather a storm can supply vital resources, minimize hardships and jumpstart recovery,” he said.

To promote both readiness and resilience, Nebraska formed a coalition of leaders from key state agencies and businesses called the Nebraska Preparedness Partnership in 2014. It offers train­ing, exercises and networking for businesses of all sizes.

“A disaster preparedness plan protects people, property and data,” said Sandra Hobson, the director of the partnership. “A plan must ensure continuity of operations for a wide range of scenarios – even total destruction. Provisions should be made to re­locate to a pre-identified site, re­trieve business records and carry on with minimal staff.”

To make their business enter­prise more resilient, Hobson ad­vises business owners to:

• Conduct a risk assessment to identify potential hazards.

• Develop procedures to quickly evacuate or shelter in place. Then run drills to practice.

• Back up business records and critical data. Keep a copy offsite or in the cloud.

• Create a crisis communica­tions plan to keep your employees, customers, vendors and the public up to date on your operations.

• Install a generator for your building’s essential electrical cir­cuits in case of a power outage.

For more information, visit ready.gov/business, NEprep.org/preparedness/make-a-plan or NEMA.nebraska.gov/operations/business.

– FEMA & NEMA

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