Storm season brings need for safety, recovery plans

 
 
Posted3/12/2017 1:00 AM

Whether it's a tornado, flood, fire or some other type of disaster, most business owners typically agree that having at least a rudimentary plan to protect employees and customers from harm -- and a second plan to begin recovery if disaster strikes -- is a good idea.

If you already have disaster and recovery plans, this may be a good time for a review. If you don't yet have a plan, try a web search for SBA disaster planning and review the sites.

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Try these resources, too: Local -- which may be city, county or state -- emergency management agencies for initial advice. If possible, also talk with someone who has ridden out a disaster.

I talked with Matt Fritz, village administrator at Coal City, a Grundy County community that has battled back from two tornadoes in less than four years: an EF-3 in June 2015 and an EF-2 tornado in November 2013.

Fritz shared some business-focused insights I haven't found anyplace else.

"The biggest thing is to plan ahead of time," Fritz says. That's almost a given, of course. But perhaps the most astute advice Fritz had is to "know at what point to pull the plug" -- not permanently, he quickly added, but "when you might close for a couple of days.

"You're so tired at the end of the first day that you're really not going to try the second day. Days three, four and five will be better."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Fritz also shared some thoughts on your role if your business came through relatively unscathed. "What you find," he says, "is that local businesses that have resources can help galvanize the community (recovery efforts). If you have trucks, for example, this is the time to use them in the recovery. Those who pitch in create a bond with the community."

Two examples from Grundy County: Cyber Broadcasting, which provides internet, television and digital phone services, "cleared out a conference room and 24/7 managed a tornado hotline service in that temporary call center," Fritz says.

A summary report of the Coal City tornado response notes that "One of the greatest needs, and also challenges, following a disaster event is communication" and labels the call center "The single most direct communication tool" the community had early on.

In a similar vein, Diamond Banquet Hall quickly made space available for the relief effort even though the business suffered severe damage.

The hope, of course, is that you never need your disaster plan. However, a trip to www.ready.gov brings a list of more than two dozen potential disasters. The content centers on both family and business needs.

Www.preparemybusiness.org, which seems to be a joint information site from the SBA and Agility Recovery Solutions, a Westminster, Colorado company that has partnered with the SBA to suggest planning and recovery options, has a worthwhile check list of items and documents that likely should be part of your planning.

© 2017 Kendall Communications Inc. Follow Jim Kendall on LinkedIn and Twitter. Write him at Jim@kendallcom.com. Listen to Jim's Business Owners' Pod Talk at www.kendallcom.com/podcast.

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