Friday, December 18, 2009

Preparing for a Disaster

In Southwest Washington, we are approaching the time of the year when flooding may be a common occurrence in some areas. We have already experienced several flood warnings in some areas. The Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments is currently working on a plan that will provide local businesses with tools that will help businesses plan for potential disaster. You will be hearing more about that program in the months ahead.

Meantime, it would be advisable to plan for possible flooding, particularly if your business is located in a vulnerable area. Even if it isn’t, flooding in your community could significantly impact your viability as a business. According to the Washington State Office of Emergency Management 40% of small businesses that close, due to a disaster event, never re-open. Coupled with current economic conditions, this number could escalate dramatically if a natural disaster were to occur in the near future. In addition, the Office of Emergency Management also notes that ‘85% of the critical infrastructure in the U.S. is owned by private industry’.

You can mitigate your chances of survival, as a business, by using many of the tools that are already available to you through the Office of Emergency Management. The business portal for disaster preparedness can be accessed at the following website: http://www.emd.wa.gov/preparedness/prep_business.shtml

You can download many documents, including sample disaster announcements, from FEMA’s website at: http://www.ready.gov/business/publications/index.html . In addition, many of the templates can be filled out on-line. Other resources that are available to you include your local County Department of Emergency Management and the Small Business Development Center.

At this time of the year, flooding is probably the disaster scenario that comes quickly to mind. However, disasters can occur at any time and can include earthquakes, fires, information technology disruptions and any number of other disasters that may have huge implications for your business. Don’t wait until disaster strikes. Instead, reduce your risks by planning for survival. If you need assistance staying on task in this area, utilize the services of your local Small Business Development Center to help you strategically plan for your business in this area. Services are available at no cost to business owners and sometimes it helps if you have someone helping you take the necessary steps to reduce risks for your business. Call 360-442-2946 if you would like to access services.

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