USA: Small businesses are a vital part of community resiliency but often overlook vulnerabilities
By Jim McKay
“Small businesses are a huge contributor to our economy so if they’re unable to rebound and provide goods and services on which we rely as a community, then obviously our recovery efforts are going to be curtailed,” said Jim Redick, director of Emergency Preparedness and Response for Norfolk, Va.
Redick said that often, small businesses find it difficult to designate time and resources for something, like a disaster, that may or may not happen or happens infrequently and they often rely on insurance.
Businesses should know, for instance, about supply chain vulnerabilities — will they be able to continue to receive supplies after a disaster and will they be able to deliver products? Have they taken a close look at their insurance policy? Have they thought about business interruption insurance and if they can get it at a decent price, are they sure that the coverage will really help during a disaster? If they’re in earthquake country are they located in a building that is a hazard as far as collapsing?
“We found during the extensive research we did on businesses was that in disasters, the key source of disruption isn’t necessarily damage at the site of the business but offsite, such as loss of electrical power, loss of water and natural gas, so a business can come out unscathed but not be able to operate,” Kathleen Tierney said.
Another key is having a plan whose primary focus is their most precious resource, their employees, and that the plan is supported from the top of the organization, no matter how large or small the organization and that they receive training and do exercises, eliminating some of the guesswork during a disaster.