Summer Catastrophes Show Importance of Disaster Plans

With hurricanes devastating the Gulf Coast, much of the southeast, and the East Coast, and wildfires burning communities to the ground in the west, it’s too late for many businesses to prepare for the worst. However, for the rest of the small business world, these disasters are a reminder that having a crisis management and disaster plan are as vital to retail stores as having inventory and employees.

September is National Preparedness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness of how important it is to have a disaster plan and recovery plan for businesses and homes. 

Learning from history 

With all the debate over whether climate change is to blame for these disasters, communities and businesses falling to natural disasters is nothing new. The Great Chicago Fire in 1871 destroyed over 3 square miles of the city. The San Francisco earthquake and fire in 1906 effectively wiped out a city of roughly 400,000. Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005 doing over $125 billion in damage. 

Preparing your disaster plan 

A story recently posted on HomeImprovementRetailer.com offers some simple and effective tips on how businesses can prepare for natural disasters. As it chronicles, most businesses – 58% – don’t have disaster plans to help them stay open or recover from temporary closure. That can be fatal for small businesses. The Small Business Administration says one-quarter of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. So, having a comprehensive disaster plan is ultimately a life insurance policy for any store. 

In February 2020, Retail Science published a story about the importance of having a crisis management plan. It details the story of how the 2018 Camp Fire burned down nearly all of Paradise, California, a town of about 25,000, and how some businesses fared in the aftermath. 

In this world of digital retail transactions and records, backing up store files is one of the most important items in any disaster plan. Industry experts suggest that companies us the 3-2-1 Rule for backing up important store files.

  • Make at least 3 copies
  • In 2 different formats.
  • With 1 of them stored offsite.

disaster planningSummer of disasters

That scenario has become hauntingly familiar. Last year, the Pacific Northwest lost the towns of Detroit, Gates, Talent and Phoenix in Oregon to fires. This year, the Dixie and Caldor fires have consumed communities in the Sierra Nevada range in California. And Hurricane Ida has been the latest calamity to affect much of the Gulf Coast, Southeast and East Coast. 

These stories offer suggestions for preparing disaster plans and resource links to places to go for help in disaster plan preparation and recovery.  

It doesn’t take a million-acre fire or a 100-mile-wide hurricane to wreak havoc on your business, either. Disasters come in all sizes. A broken water or gas line can cripple a business as just as quickly as an earthquake. Power outages, equipment failures, or loss of internet service can be just as damaging to a business as a fire or flood. Having contingencies or managed services from a software provider should be part of any crisis management or disaster plan.  

In this summer of natural disasters, it seems like it’s a good idea to have your business ready for anything. 

Brian Bullock

Author