Resources Available that Help you Develop a Plan
BUFFALO, NY--- Disasters can strike at any time, and even the most prepared businesses and business owners can be adversely impacted. If your business has been impacted by a disaster, the SBA can help by providing disaster assistance.
SBA provides low-interest, long-term loans to homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes whose property has been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster. SBA’s disaster loans are the primary form of federal assistance for nonfarm, private sector disaster losses. Working capital loans may be available to small businesses that have suffered an economic loss as a result of the disaster.
“The October Storm that devastated Buffalo, New York, and the nor’easter that caused flood losses in several Northeast states are reminders that no matter where you live, there’s always a possibility of a major disaster,” said District Director Franklin J. Sciortino. “Every threat, from wind storms, floods and wildfires, to power outages and computer system failures remind us to be proactive when it comes to having a plan to survive the disaster and recover quickly.”
Preparing for the worst-case scenario will ensure a quicker and less costly recovery.
The six-month hurricane season typically peaks between August and October. Now is a good time to put a disaster preparedness plan in place to protect your employees and your business. We have tips to get you started.
Determine your greatest risk potential. It might come from wind damage or inland flooding that typically follows a tropical storm’s heavy rains. Your business could suffer financial losses due to road and bridge closings in the aftermath of a hurricane. Power outages are a major threat, especially to businesses in the food and hospitality industries. What would happen if you had to shut down your business for several days? Look at the building where you do business – inside and out – and assess the risks. If you do this early enough, you’ll have time to do structural upgrades – like impact resistant doors and windows – that can prevent possible future storm damage.
Calculate the cost of business interruptions for one week, one month and six months. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able investigate insurance options or build a cash reserve that will allow your company to function during the post-disaster recovery phase. It’s also a good idea to develop professional relationships with alternative vendors, in case your primary contractor can’t service your needs. Place occasional orders with them so they regard you as an active customer when you need them.
Review your insurance coverage. Contact your agent to find out if your policy is adequate for your needs. Consult with a business insurance expert to advise you on the right coverage for your situation. When buying insurance, ask “How much can I afford to lose?” It’s a good idea to know the value of your property. Floods are the leading cause of natural disaster losses in the U.S., according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and many property insurance policies don’t cover flood damage.
Build a crisis communications plan so you’ll be able to make sure your employees, customers, vendors, and contractors know what’s going on. Establish an e-mail alert system. Make sure you have primary and secondary email addresses for your employees, and everyone you do business with. Create a Facebook page, and use Twitter to keep the public aware you’re still in business and in the process of recovering after the disaster.
Consider a Telework Policy. Prepare for the possibility that employees won’t be able to get to work by developing an emergency telework policy. Read “How to Make Telework Work for your Small Business” for more information.
More preparedness tips for businesses, homeowners and renters are available on the SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/disaster_recov/prepared/getready.html. The Institute for Business and Home Safety (http://www.disastersafety.org/ ) also has information on protecting your home or business. The federal government’s preparedness Web site http://www.ready.gov/ is another helpful resource.
To learn more about the SBA’s disaster assistance program, visit the Web site at http://www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance/index.html.
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