Helping a community recover following a natural disaster: Your business can make a difference

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Spring is a time of tumultuous weather across the mid-section of the country. Growing up in Dallas-Fort Worth, I’ve heard my fair share of tornado sirens, rushed into our storm shelter multiple times and lived in North Texas when the infamous March 2000 tornado hit Fort Worth. It’s a very real threat, not just for families, but for businesses across the country that suffer profit losses due to closures, lack of employees available to work, supply chain interruptions, and more.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Following the aftermath of the F5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, last Monday, many businesses and homes in the area, including corporations in the hospitality, healthcare, energy, retail and banking industries, experienced damages estimated at $3 billion according to the International Business Times. Companies that were taken by surprise when the tornado touched down will need weeks or even months to re-open (if they are able to), depending on the severity of the damage. There is a way to mitigate the effects of Mother Nature, however, and help your community bounce back from a natural disaster, such as the one in Oklahoma. According to a team of researchers from Louisiana State University, Texas State University and Tulane University, decision-making related to natural disasters by businesses has a direct impact on the overall recovery of a community following a disaster. How quickly you re-open following a storm can help your community in many ways:
• Retail stores can provide the necessary food, water and clothing that may have been lost in the destruction
• Banks who have mobile ATMs and banking centers allow people to access necessary funds to purchase the items listed  above
• Hotels and lodges can provide much needed shelter for those who’ve lost their homes
• Hospitals can aid the injured or help reunite loved ones missing in the wake of the natural disaster
• Companies who open quickly following a disaster can help motivate other businesses and competitors in the area to go back to full operation, which in turn has a positive effect on the community

In order to help your community before, during and after a disaster, companies must put some time into the preparation of an effective emergency response plan. This effort involves more than just writing it down, you must test your plan to eliminate gaps and commonly overlooked matters, including employee readiness, remediation and vendor agreements, crisis accommodation planning, considerations for colocation and disaster recovery, and more.

Having an emergency response plan and strategic weather-related business decision guidance, will allow your company to minimize downtime, maximize profitability, keep your employees safe and out of harm’s way and most importantly, help your community bounce back.

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