Business Disaster Plan

Business disaster plansThe storms and subsequent flooding that happened in our area last week, has me thinking about business disaster plans, and what can we do differently the next time we are affected, both at home and at the office.

Business Disaster Plans can vary in length and depth depending on the nature and size of your business, but at the very least should address some common what-ifs.  FEMA offers this downloadable PDF document for business owners, the Emergency Management Guide for Business and Industry, where you can find additional information on planning for emergencies, response, and recovery.

While natural disasters remind us that Mother Nature is in charge, man-made disasters and hazards are also a potential threat. Either way, we need to be prepared.

Assuming you are running some sort of practice, here are a few things to think of. I’m sure this list will continue to grow as others provide their input.

  1. Communication: Can you contact your patients and staff? Do you have phone numbers at your fingertips? Assume you have no power or cannot access your electronic database.
  2. Medications, vaccines and the like are temperature sensitive,  how will you keep them viable?
  3. Charts: Can you protect them? How will you access them? If electronic, are they backed up and away from your office? Will you be able to access the back up in a different location?
  4. Supplies: Can you get critical supplies if necessary? What plans do your vendors have in place? (I saw UPS and the Red Cross Disaster Relief folks driving U-haul rental vans). How will you contact them?
  5. What kind of business insurance do you have? What are the exclusions? Does your insurance include business interruption as well as coverage for fires and the like?
  6. Are you the only provider in a small town? Are you able to assist in providing emergency care to those in your locale? What supplies do you have/need in order to do so?  How will you keep yourself and staff as safe as possible (think personal protective equipment)?
  7. If you need to evacuate your location, do you have your routes figured out? Is your staff aware of what they need to do? Are you able to get patients out of the building if necessary?
  8. If you are in a shared building (office building, business park, strip mall, etc), how can you interact with your neighbors to make this a smoother process? We all know that we need each other during disasters.
  9. Have you made an inventory complete with photos/video of your business and contents? Are all your vital papers together in one accessible spot? Again, do you have a backup?
  10. What home preparations have you made? Assume you will be without power for days. Perhaps the water supply will be interrupted.  Heat, cold, shelter and food may be issues as well.
  11. Experts recommend that at a minimum you should have three days of water for each person in your home. Take the daily recommended water intake and times that by the number of people in your home.

These are just a few thoughts to get you started thinking about the unthinkable. Please add your thoughts and suggestions below about your own business disaster plans.


Comments 1

  1. The following is a recap of what we went through when Hurricane Rita hit us in 2005 and how we made it without electricity, running water, phones, etc:

    Well, to add to the existing aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina which devastated Southeast LA, right on the trail comes along Hurricane Rita to rival devastation in Southwest LA! Before we could get all evacuees completely settled in their chosen communities or sent on to family and friends in other parts of the country, they had to once again become evacuees when Hurricane Rita threatened the LA coast once again. They were all brought to safety and the residents of Southwest LA then had to batten down the hatches and prepare for the onslaught of Rita, who in all her glory could not quite make up her mind and teetered first to one area, then to another. When she finally hit landfall it was Friday, September 23 in the middle of the night with the wind howling and sounding like the roof was going to be hauled right off the house. We had not had electricity, running water or phone service since that Friday afternoon and then played out the waiting game with some trepidation. Children and animals had to be calmed down and prepared for what was to come. No one slept much that night, tornadoes swirled all around us picking up roofs, cars, trees, fences, entire trailers and tossing them elsewhere as if they weighed no more than a feather! When morning finally came, the wind was still strong and shingles from roofs, broken trees and branches were strewn everywhere. Power lines were down all over town – in some towns worse than others – making travel less easily traveled than previously experienced. Everyone left the safety of their shelter to access the damage to their personal property. Most got busy cleaning up their property when the wind died down to a manageable stage.

    I carefully made my way to my home to find that all was intact with branches and leaves from one end of the property to the other. A few shingles were on the ground where they had landed as they were torn from the roof. I thanked God for the reprieve of sparing our personal property. I then went to check on my office and as I passed through town, I saw numerous huge live oak trees lying on the ground, some across the road, some going through a home or falling on a home or dragging power lines down and limiting access to that roadway and making for an unsafe situation with live electrical wires lying on the ground. I was unprepared for what I saw when I got to my office. There was part of a tree lying across the alley way which prevented passage and I had to go around. What I saw was half of the roof on my building which was tin was twisted as if it were a piece of play dough and was lying on the dentist’s parking lot next door! Tree branches were everywhere, some lying across live electrical wires that had been torn in the tornado that ripped the roof off my building as well as cutting the connectors to the transformers providing our entire block with electricity, which we had no more. I went inside to assess the damage which was not as excessive as I first thought! There were a few ceiling tiles down, and water on the floor (we had picked up all computers and covered them). But as the next few days evolved, and rain came down in sheets, more water seeped into the building and more tiles fell. We would have to replace 44 tiles total.

    I rallied my forces and started calling insurance agents, both local and far away, called FEMA, who basically told me there was nothing they could do to help me, took pictures of everything because I was not going to let grass grow under my feet waiting for the insurance agents. We started calling people who knew people who would cut down trees, haul off the twisted roof, some that would give me ideas on what to do with the roof so that the same thing would not happen again. The carpenter started on the roof that day as did the tree cutters who ended up cleaning the entire property!

    My faithful helpers and I started on the inside picking up all the broken and saturated ceiling tiles, then using a wet vac to suck up all the water on the floor. Rooms had to be cleaned, floors had to be mopped. Everything was wet and muggy and hot, but we pressed on knowing that the longer we took, the longer it would put off opening up for our patients who by now surely needed refills and other things checked on because the hospital in town was closed and so was the hospital in the next town and they are still closed today. We opened today, Thursday, September 29 with a sign on the door proclaiming “Welcome hurricane survivors! Please excuse our post hurricane inconveniences” and the patients loved it even though they had to sweat a little!

    As we were leaving today, the electricity company came to tell us that they would have us online in the am and we rejoiced. We had been powered by generators all day, but still could not run everything and so were hot and uncomfortable all day. My staff was such a help by getting the computers, internet and phones working. We were all like busy bees. My worker bees helped maintain the generators which have to be babied throughout the time they are on. They made phone calls for us before we got our phones up and running and life was good!

    We’ll certainly remember Rita and her evil twin sister Katrina for years to come just as we remember Hurricane Audrey which killed so many people in 1957 as it ripped through Cameron, LA. Today, the courthouse is the only standing structure in Cameron and Rita took all the homes of the inhabitants who had evacuated long before now and even parts of the highway which follows the coast are completely missing today as erosion completely encompassed the roadway.

    It feels so good to be back in air conditioning – you never know how much you appreciate the little things until you are without them for over a week. I actually look forward to washing clothes – and that could be construed as sick in some circles – but not here where we haven’t been able to wash clothes all week and feared a takeover by mildew.

    I’ve had all the trees in my back parking lot cut because they were all dead and with each storm, another branch would aim for some unsuspecting part of a building, a vehicle or a person. Now it looks baron in the back parking lot, and maybe one of these days we’ll get to pour a cement parking lot, but until then, we are happy to know that sap will no longer fall on our cars!

    The military is stationed in the new high school and patrol the area all day and enforce the curfew of 7a – 7 p. They also play a part as does law enforcement in handing out ice, water and MRE’s everyday to whoever is willing to wait in line. My children got the biggest kick out of the MRE’s which are packets of military food that they eat when out in the field. Getting gas is a challenge as it is in very short supply and so if you want gas to run your generators or your cars, you have to wait in long lines and sometimes the gas runs out before the people do. There are hardly any groceries on the shelves – it is baron in any store that dares to open. Milk, bread and eggs are sought after commodities because they are so rare. Radio and TV stations broadcast all day and night who has gas, where FEMA is handing out ice, water and MRE’s, which stores have groceries, etc. None of the schools are open because there is no electricity, running water and so they stay home and help clean up – hopefully if parents can tie them down.

    We are praying that the low pressure in the gulf is not headed for us, surely that would not happen a third time? Please keep us in your prayers and your continued support is also appreciated. Come visit anytime – just not during hurricane season!

    Nina Ravey

    bruce springsteen sang this song at jazz fest. It’s been almost two years since katrina hit and this will help you to remember.

    Lay back and watch, it’s pretty powerful. Click on this link.

    The following is a report on the progress made since the twin sister hurricanes lashed on our pitiful little state:

    I’m looking for the videos of the devastation that occurred but haven’t put my finger on it yet.


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