• June 5, 2013
2 minutes Read
The recent events in Oklahoma, and last year’s hurricane season, underscore the importance of emergency preparedness. But they also suggest that even with the best disaster planning, businesses can be blind-sided by nature.
If your business has been hit, you know there’s only so much you can do until the worst has passed. You may not even be thinking about next steps. There are a few actions you take, however, to start the recovery process.
Share your plans with staff and customers.
Ensure that your employees are reassured and aware of your recovery plans. It helps to have all communication come from one person, preferably you—if you’re the owner or manager. If you have customers you regularly work with, be sure to talk with them, too. A simple notification of when you might be back online can keep opportunistic competitors away.
And remember that methods of communication aren’t limited to phone. If you have Internet access, social media and your business website are options.
Stay in touch with government authorities.
It may be awhile before you can return to your place of business, but you can stay up-to-date on road re-openings and clearances by checking in with local law enforcement and other authorities.
Before you start to clean up, be sure to take pictures. This will help you determine what’s salvable, and make insurance claims easier.
Be on the look-out for safety issues.
In addition to protecting yourself with work boots, masks, and gloves during clean up, you can protect your neighbors by informing appropriate organizations of potential health issues, like chemical spills and downed power lines.
Also take a look at the EPA’s guidelines for dealing with debris and damage, and consider using professionals when assessing your building’s structure, electrical systems, and water supply.
Contact your local disaster recovery center.
Once a disaster area is declared, FEMA sets up disaster recovery centers to provide assistance to FEMA applicants and answer questions, including those about Small Business Administration programs.
You may also want to visit the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance to learn about low-interest loans, which are available to repair or replace real estate, equipment, inventory, and other property.
Weigh your lending options.
Look into any other sources of funding you have to aid in your recovery. This could include business loans or lines of credit for emergencies.
If you’re having trouble paying existing loans or bills, contact your creditors sooner than later. They may be able to extend payment due dates or relax credit terms.
Use technology when it can help.
Services like VoIP can help you stay connected if your landlines are down. VoIP transmits calls over the Internet, so you can get around phone infrastructure damage. You can also have calls routed to your cell phone or other devices.
Take care of yourself and others.
A safe, central location with regular meetings can be a great way to help, or get help from, your fellow small business owners. Together, the business community is much stronger than any one company alone and better able to tackle the problems of rebuilding.
Most of all, take it easy on yourself and your staff. You can think about flextime, carpooling, and other ways to make the transition back to work easier—but not until you’re ready.
Photo credit: Stuart Miles/shutterstock.com
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This is not investment, tax or legal advice. Should you have questions please consult you own attorney, tax accountant or other appropriate expert having expertise in the area of your question or before making important decisions in these areas.