Two weeks ago, Winter Storm Jonas dumped nearly 2 feet of snow on the east coast. Three weeks before that, the Mississippi was flooding the Midwest. Both events lead to huge business and economic losses. March is 26 days away and with March comes the beginning of tornado season. Statistically, this country experiences 1000 tornados per year. On average, there are 10 named storms in the Atlantic with over half of those becoming hurricanes. Mississippi has an average of 875,000 lightning strikes per year, or 18.4 per square mile, Louisiana has over 900,000 lightning strikes, an average 19.7 per square mile. And watch out Florida! Florida has 1.4 million lightning strikes per year. That is 24.7 lightning strikes per square mile. Combine that with an average of 35 earthquakes worldwide per week with the ever-present forest fires in the Northwest, anyone can come to the conclusion that we live in a shooting gallery!
The events can range from minimal impact events such as snow and ice, to severe impact events (wild fires and hurricanes). Depending on the scale of the event and a business’s level of planning for disasters, the business will either move on or close forever. Natural disasters frequently result in property loss, termination of certain employees, injury to employees, loss of revenue or catastrophes up to and including loss of the business or lives as well. Every company can and should plan to continue in at least some capacity after a natural disaster.
Planning for the Worst
The absolute worst thing to do in preparation for a natural disaster is to do nothing at all. Waiting until it is broadcast on the radio or seeing a major storm system develop on the news is not the time to begin your preparation for a disaster.
At that point, communications and electrical systems may already be failing area-wide. Critical supplies (oil, gasoline, diesel fuel) and emergency supplies such as AAA cell batteries, D cell batteries, battery power back-ups for computer and electronic systems, generators and even flashlights, needed for business and human continuation may have already been sold out of stores by a panicked population. If you don’t believe it, Google the terms: eggs bread milk toilet paper. Then click Images.
The best thing a business owner can do to continue business during and after a disaster is to begin preparation well in advance. Here are three basic planning activities to get business owners started in short form below. The full article is on our website at taxplanning.com.
1) Written Instruments and Communication
Along with any disaster plan, written instruments are a necessity. Reducing a plan to writing is a sure sign that the plan is being developed in a manner which is achievable.
Reasonable measures must be taken in order to, if not defend the store; provide footage for law enforcement to catch the individuals responsible for the crimes there committed.
Modern day financing relies heavily on electronic mediums such as credit card readers and telecommunications. Bottom line, if there is no power, there is no money. Your employees will also need financial assistance during this time period as well. Two weeks of pay can ensure that employees 1) can pay their bills and endure, and 2) come back as they will be obligated to work for the pay advance you provided them with.
Every business should have a disaster plan in place in order to survive a natural disaster ranging from the smallest to devastating. People face challenges and businesses do as well. It is important that a natural disaster does not become a personal or business bankruptcy, where a continuation would have been entirely possible and necessary for the surrounding community.
Roman Basi and his firm frequently devise similar (albeit much more involved) plans involving business succession, business operational manuals (including disaster planning) and business valuations. You can view the ready.gov Preparedness Planning for Your Business site at http://www.ready.gov/business, or you can go to www.taxplanning.com, and follow our link.
By: Roman Basi at the Center for Financial, Legal and Tax Planning for Transworld M&A Advisors