Paving The Road To Disaster Recovery

A few years back we were contracted to coordinate a series of emergency preparedness booklets for the National Restaurant Association. The storms hitting Houston and then Florida reminded me of the booklet we produced on natural disasters. I wrote in it that there are a couple of key issues that set natural disasters apart from other crises that might affect your business. Unlike an on-premise fire, a criminal incident, a foodborne illness outbreak, a simple power outage or other localized crisis, a catastrophic natural disaster affects you, your employees and the folks you’d normally call for help.

The emergency and medical services, utility services, vendors and, later, cleanup services and building contractors you’d normally rely on for a quick recovery simply won’t be available; you’ll be one of hundreds, if not thousands, calling for help, when you can call for help. Neither will you or your employees really be available because taking care of home is more important than taking care of work. For a while, you could be on your own and in the dark, literally and figuratively.

Eventually, life will return to normal, but those who’ve been through natural disasters shared some things to do in advance that make life a whole lot easier afterward. The first is insurance. Did you know you can get coverage for business interruption, extra expense to cover the cost of temporarily operating outside of your old venue, health-code upgrade insurance if your building was old, and insurance to cover food spoilage, mold and debris removal? Back up your key business documents into an administrative crash kit, easy to either grab or access remotely. Think of documents required to run the business, employee info, those needed for legal matters, for regulatory compliance, and for insurance. Get an advance list together of recovery service providers, health department contacts and utilities. Just having all those numbers at the ready will save you hours. Think too about how to pay employees. They’re going to need their paychecks.

The original booklet we put together was a 31-page Word document; it went into minute detail about what to do before, during and after a natural disaster. Being a little prepared in advance makes a big difference after.

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