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Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Other Disasters: Small Businesses Should Take Steps to Be Prepared Now - Tips

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Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Other Disasters: Small Businesses Should Take Steps to Be Prepared Now - Tips

By Karen Mills, Former SBA Administrator
Published: August 23, 2011 Updated: April 30, 2012

Sometimes disasters strike without warning, such as earthquakes, including the one millions of Americans felt today on the East Coast.  Other times, we have a few days to prepare, like we have right now with Hurricane Irene approaching the Carolinas.  In the case of any natural or man-made disaster, small business owners should have a disaster preparedness plan in place and ready to go.

It’s often difficult for small business owners – some of the busiest people in America – to look beyond the most pressing, immediate business concerns.  But an “ounce of prevention” today could mean the difference in whether a business is able to survive a disaster and quickly return to regular operations.

A few quick tips:

  • Make and keep an extra set of copies of important documents, such as insurance policies and financial records.

  • Check to make sure your employee and customer contact information is up-to-date and easy to access.

  • Be prepared to provide regular communications in anticipation of, during, and after a disaster to all of your stakeholders.

Most of all, we encourage everyone in the community to listen to local public officials.  If they say to close up shop or evacuate, don’t hesitate.

In addition, I encourage small business owners throughout the country to check out federal resources and tips at as well as a business readiness evaluation tool from the American Red Cross available for free at

We’ve had many major natural disasters in the U.S. this year: floods, tornadoes, droughts, fires, earthquakes, and, now, hurricanes.  The chances of a small business surviving a disaster is largely dependent on how prepared they are.

And make no mistake.  After a major disaster strikes, the SBA will be there.  We will activate our on-call reservists and start providing low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, businesses, and nonprofit organizations.

While we all hope that Hurricane Irene weakens over the coming days, we must remain vigilant.  And we know that another hurricane – or another unexpected threat – could be just around the corner.  There is no time like the present to ensure that America’s small business owners are ready for whatever comes their way.

About the Author:

Karen Mills

Former SBA Administrator

Karen Gordon Mills is the Former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA helps both Main Street and high-growth small businesses get access to capital, counseling, federal contracts, disaster assistance and more.


Thank you for providing a lot of experience in doing mentoring to entrepreneurs. What you do have a lot of help entrepreneurs to continue to grow their business and be able to compete in any change in the country's economy.
Excellent information and facts. Only real difficulty I was basically receiving was viewing the pics. No idea exactly why.
I agree with you. Your tips are so helpful. It will help a lot..                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks                                                                                                                                                                                                                Shajid                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Takeshi Yashima: Investment and Financial Education Blog
Agree with you, those points are the things we should do when it happen
Great article. We're a little scared over here in New York... wish us luck!
We cannot agree more.Businesses can be shut down without warning or even just prevented from accessing their data. One infamous incident was a tall office building that suffered a fire about half way up the building. The fire marshall would not allow access to any of the businesses on the floors above the damaged floor for any reason. Those without offsite backups of their data suffered immeasurable financial consequences and more than a few went out of business. We posted on this topic after the tragic tsunami in Japan back in March 2011.What The Disaster In Japan Teaches Us About Online Backup:

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