Extreme Weather Alert

Between 40 to 60 per cent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster, according to a recent article in USA Today by Thomas M. Kostigen, founder of TheClimateSurvivalist.com. “Recovery plans are often nonexistent, which means business continuity is interrupted. When business operations are disrupted, costs soar and profits dwindle. Investors lose,” states the Kostigen.

“Heat waves can bend train tracks and impede the transportation of goods. Stormy seas and shipping tankers can have the same effect,” writes Kostigen. “The 2014/2015 blizzards proved how devastating winter events can be, causing more than $1 billion in damage and losses many times greater than that due to weaker retail sales and labor interruptions. Other weather phenomena such as hail, tornadoes, wildfires and their brethren prove just as treacherous for commerce as communities.”

With stories of floods, fire and other natural disasters becoming common in everyday headlines, what, then are the government and private sector doing to help small businesses plan for disaster?

The White House released a plan at the end of July to combat climate change by getting major companies such as Cargill and Coca-Cola to commit to carbon reduction and other measures.

“Countries and communities around the world are already being affected by deeper, more persistent droughts, pounded by more severe weather, inundated by bigger storm surges, and imperiled by more frequent and dangerous wildfires. Rising temperatures can lead to more smog, longer allergy seasons, and an increased incidence of extreme-weather-related injuries, all of which imperil public health, particularly for vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and some communities of color. No corner of the planet and no sector of the global economy will remain unaffected by climate change in the years ahead,” said the release.

Small companies without extensive resources to formulate a comprehensive plan can turn to government resources for help. Established a few years back, FEMA and Department of Homeland Security initiative PS-Prep is a voluntary program for private and non-profit companies looking to develop and institute a business continuity management program. “PS-Prep™ enables organizations to identify and implement the necessary steps for instituting and maintaining a comprehensive management system that addresses business continuity, organizational resilience, emergency and disaster management. In addition, DHS will provide recognition for those entities that certify to the adopted preparedness standards,” according to the FEMA website.

Another resource provided by the article is the government’s Ready program, which helps businesses develop a preparedness plan using an “all hazards” approach.