By Molly Malone
Owners of microbusinesses, sole proprietors, and farmers spend many hours developing plans and attending training sessions to educate themselves on operating a business and what to do in the face of adversity.
A key component of their planning should include being prepared for a major weather event. As the seasons change, flooding becomes a concern in many parts of the country. The most common and costly natural disaster in the U.S., according to The Pew Charitable Trusts, flood-related disasters have accounted for more than $850 billion in damage and losses since 2000.
With that in mind, a good preparedness plan should focus on people, equipment, and operations.
First, confirm and document contact information for all employees, vendors, contractors, and key customers. It’s also best to have a list of alternatives in case a regular vendor or supplier is unable to fulfill their role.
For equipment, be sure there is a water-safe storage space and that any dangerous chemicals are stored in a way where they would not be released in a flood. Also, make sure main gas and electric shut offs are clearly marked, accessible and familiar to staff. Having a master directory of user names and passwords for computers, phones, and social media is recommended.
Additionally, the plan should outline what happens if staff are unable to physically access the workplace—determining what business functions must continue and which could be put on hold.
As with any good plan, a regular review by both management and staff needs to be scheduled. This should include how to access the plan, both on-site and digitally, and emphasize safety.
While the hope is to never have to use an emergency plan, being well-prepared minimizes the impact on business and protects not only operations, but people.
Malone is senior policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs.