Is Your Business Prepared For Disaster?

The images of devastation left behind by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 are unforgettable. The scenes of flooding, damage, and loss were seen throughout the northeast, including in the Lehigh Valley. But while the human toll may be what comes to mind when thinking about a natural disaster like Superstorm Sandy, there is also a big toll on businesses.

In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, up to 40 percent of businesses affected by a disaster close their doors, never to reopen. Many of those are small businesses.

A big part of the reason is just how overwhelming a disaster’s impact can be. After Superstorm Sandy, an estimated 1.3 million customers in Pennsylvania lost power, among them, businesses in the Lehigh Valley. Floods and broken trees made roads impassable, preventing workers and materials from reaching those businesses. For business owners who did not have an emergency plan in place, the response was made up of guesswork, uncertainty, and confusion.

To help businesses keep their doors open after an emergency, the American Red Cross Lehigh Valley-Bucks Chapter has the Ready Rating Program. The program is a powerful tool that helps a business owner assess the business’s readiness if a disaster were to hit today, whether it’s a storm, blizzard, flood, or anything else. Using the results of the assessment, the program can help the business owner come up with a detailed plan to keep the business running.

                “It’s all about creating an environment where you’re reacting with a plan, not just having to make up a plan on the fly,” said Peter Brown, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Lehigh Valley-Bucks Chapter.

The time is ideal to take part in the Ready Rating Program. Almost five years have passed since Superstorm Sandy, which was perhaps the last big natural disaster to hit the Lehigh Valley. That’s the longest stretch without a disaster in the last 20 to 30 years. While that’s good news for the Lehigh Valley, it also means business owners may have forgotten the importance of preparation.

“The key is that you’re not going to be caught off-guard. It creates an organizational awareness, working from a plan, that you know where you are and what you need to do, so you can focus on implementation and keeping your team moving forward,” Brown said. To learn more about the Red Cross Ready Rating Program please email peter.brown@redcross.org

You can also visit our Workplace and Organization page on redcross.org, by visiting here.

Written by Chris Peralta

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