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Bouncing Back After A Disaster

Harvey and Irma are grim reminders that Mother Nature doesn’t play by the rules, so we should learn to expect the unexpected. If disaster were to strike this moment, would you be ready? What about your employees? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than 40% of businesses never reopen after a disaster, and for those that do, only 29% were still operating after two years. And guess what likely becomes of those that lost their information technology for nine days or more after a disaster? Bankruptcy within a year.

If there is a lesson to be learned from the last few weeks, it is that we all need to be prepared for natural disasters and weather emergencies. This applies to businesses as well as to individuals. After seeing some of the current droughts, wildfires, tornadoes, and most recently, hurricanes and flooding damage, you should review your disaster recovery plans. Many businesses are only now discovering that the plans they had in place were not adequate to help them recover from these disasters. Disaster recovery plans are designed to help you keep your employees safe while responding to an interruption in services and restoring your organization's critical business functions. To ease the recovery process, plans need to be made well in advance of a disaster. Plans for backup systems, locations, and equipment should be in place to minimize down time. If a disaster does strike, you'll have your plan to walk you through your recovery steps, which may include:

  • Gathering staff off-site, notifying authorities, and arranging for repairs;
  • Making contact with local media to get information out to your employees and the community;
  • Stabilizing buildings. Make sure to wear proper personal protective equipment before entering structures, and of course, make sure structures are sound. Remove debris and try to prevent mold outbreaks by setting up fans or dehumidifiers.
  • Documenting the condition of buildings, furniture, equipment, and other objects. Take notes and photographs.
  • Conducting a damage assessment. You may need an on-site evaluation from your insurance representative for this. Make a rough estimate of the extent and nature of the damage. Keep an eye out for threats to worker safety.
  • Retrieve and protect undamaged items. Move these items to a dry part of the building — or off-site. Salvage what you can, and check items daily for mold growth.
  • Begin planning for offsite production or worksites to get the business up and running again.

With the assistance of Catto & Catto’s interactive tools, you can set up a customized written disaster recovery plan to ensure your company can continue all aspects of your core business processes and safely resume normal operations as quickly as possible. In addition, you can train your employees in disaster recovery using tailored training lessons to help them better understand their role in helping to bounce back from a disaster. 

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