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What To Do If Your Business Is Damaged Or Destroyed By A Natural Disaster

No matter where your business is located, there will always be a risk that it may be damaged or even destroyed in the event of a natural disaster. Hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, and earthquakes constantly wreak havoc on communities across the globe, including the businesses in those communities. Protecting your business from the damage caused by natural disaster relies heavily on taking preventative measures, but dealing with it can be more stressful than imagined when it actually happens.

Natural Disasters: A Growing Risk

Coverage of natural disasters at home and abroad every year seems to show an overall intensification of frequency and severity. While yes, coverage of these types of events are great for network news ratings, it’s not like they are just pretending like these disasters are taking place. So, are catastrophic disasters striking more frequently, dealing more damage than ever before?

Unfortunately, the answer is not as easy as a simple yes or no. While yes, natural disasters have seen a slight uptick in their frequency compared to years past, it isn’t the Armageddon-like wave that some like to portray it as. The natural disasters that are occurring, however, are dealing far more damage worldwide.

Now, this is not just due to an increase in the intensity of natural disasters; it’s also due to the fact that the economy is much better than it used to be. When a hurricane or earthquake does serious damage to a city, it justs costs much more to recover from it today than it did in the 1980s.

Recovering from natural disasters has also been made more difficult for both businesses and the public because of climate change. Climate change is now a real public health concern, and while some people are still on the fence as to whether climate change is making these natural disasters more dangerous themselves, it most definitely makes them more difficult to recover from.

Disasters that cause flooding, for example, see massive swarms of insects like mosquitoes breeding after the fact. Those insects can be vectors for dangerous illnesses. This means that while the flooding may subside, people may still not be allowed to go back home because of other environmental issues, which in turn means that it may take longer to get your business up and running again.

Natural Disasters Can Cause Serious Damage

While all natural disasters can do harm to your business, they vary in their intensity by a fairly wide margin. Though a tornado tearing through a town has a chance to rip the roof off your business completely, it might also pass right by. If there is serious flooding in your area, you might be lucky enough to be just out of reach of the water, or it could completely flood your business, destroying tons of useful data pertaining to your business. Natural disasters are highly unpredictable, but failing to adequately prepare your business for potential disaster is a serious blunder.

If a natural disaster does affect the area in which you do business, it can be weeks, months, or even years before you’re able to get your business up and running again. While homeowners can seek assistance from FEMA if their homes are damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster and rely on assistance from other disaster relief agencies in the form of cash or in-kind donations, businesses don’t receive the same benefits. When disaster strikes, the onus to save a business falls to the owner of said business, which can often spell bad news for those who aren’t prepared.

In the case of natural disasters that are so severe that FEMA is actually called in to manage relief efforts, you’ll still be able to rely on them if your home is damaged. While FEMA’s response to disasters in the form of aid and recovery is often vital in getting a community back on its feet after a natural disaster, they are not in the business of assisting with economic disasters.

When the chips fall and your business is in trouble, it is up to you to make sure you’ve done all you can to make getting things back to normal as easy as possible, because FEMA’s priorities are focused on humanitarian relief.

How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster

It is vitally important that you are prepared for a natural disaster, with both your personal finances and those belonging to your business. Planning for a natural disaster especially as a business owner can be a bit stressful, because you never know when, or even if, you’ll have to deal with one. However, 25 percent of companies are unable to resume operations after a natural disaster strikes, and small businesses are usually hit hardest as they can be caught off guard financially and generally don’t have the capital to deal with recovery efforts. After the fact, there is very little that can be done.

There are a few simple ways to ensure that your business is ready to handle a natural disaster:

  • It’s important that you identify any potential disasters that might affect your area, then obtain the appropriate insurance that will cover your business. Don’t forget to update your policies after making any improvements to your property — this is a common error of homeowners and entrepreneurs alike.
  • Have an emergency response plan in place so that all of your employees are aware of exactly what to do in the event of an emergency to evacuate safely.
  • Backup all of your business data to an offsite location and implement a business disaster recovery plan so that you’ll be able to quickly get your business up and running again as soon as you can.

Having a business disaster recovery plan or a business continuity plan in place is the best possible way to ensure that your business can bounce back from any potential natural disaster. Understanding how much time it will take and who has what duties when a disaster strikes can help to reduce any potential damage. When you communicate clearly with your team and everyone knows exactly what to do in the event of a natural disaster, you’ll be able to pack up shop, protect your data, and make sure that the only potential loss is that off the building your business operates out of.

Natural disasters are just a part of life, and while it might not seem like your business is at risk, there is always potential that you will be affected. While there are disaster relief programs like FEMA, they are more concerned with the preservation of human life and can generally do little for your business. When it comes down to it, anticipation and preparation are the keys to being able to bring your business back to its full potential after a natural disaster.

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Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner is a mom, writer, and entrepreneur in the Pacific Northwest. She loves all things literary, doggish, and plant-based. Of those, words are her favorite. You can find more of her work on Twitter @faulknercreek.

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