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How to Get Started On High-Level Emergency Management Thinking (and why you should)

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Weather extremes are increasing and with it, we are quickly learning that our civilization is based on energy infrastructures that are no match for Mother Nature.

Hurricane Ian and other natural disasters are highlighting this. The power grid, water treatment facilities, gas stations, and supply chain for food and other goods cannot be designed and built to last against the onslaught of category-five hurricanes. Those are nature's nuclear weapons.

In some places, high plains, for instance, massive underground bunkers can be and are being built right now at break-neck speed to support certain people for long-term survival. This possibility is reserved for the ultra-wealthy, the .1-percenters, and high-level government officials.

If you are reading this, it is highly unlikely you are in that upper echelon.

If you are an SMB (small to medium-sized business) and have not been hit by natural disasters, it is unlikely you have taken the time or spent the money to develop and execute a disaster recovery plan to survive the devastation a Hurricane Ian can bring to your doorstep. However, HROs (High-reliability organizations) and other organizations that are critical to the continuance of our civilization the way we know it has dedicated CEMs (Certified Emergency Managers), often in custom build command centers doing the job of all-hazards incident management day in and day out.

Not all businesses are in high-threat zones. Not all parts of the country have the same probability of threat or even the same type of threat to mitigate. Some counties in the USA are unlikely to experience an environmental threat of any magnitude at all.

That said, in the USA, about 70% of all businesses with more than 20 employees are in a zone with a high probability of disaster, if not severe, disruption. Why? Most businesses are in coastal areas and on other waterways that were naturally attractive for trade routes and are now the most population-dense.

Secure Foods wants to be a part of your disaster recovery plan. We want to help organizations and their workforce survive natural disasters in a way that cares for people first.

As thousands of business owners and millions of employees realize, after a disaster, there are only two choices when met with an event like hurricane Ian. Once destroyed, insurance is collected (if it was secured in the first place), and that money goes to the owners to rebuild or not. If they decide it is worth rebuilding, they will need talented and trained people to do it. If they decide to abandon their business, they will secure water, food, safety, and community for themselves and “good luck” to their former employees left to fend for their own families.

However, if the owners think they can rebuild, they should be keenly aware that insurance does not cover revenue losses from lower demand, supply chain issues, or employee disruptions. You may start from scratch to find and train all new people once the dust settles or the floods recede.

And, according to reported Ian data, only 15% of firms with some form of insurance actually received a payment. Why? They were underinsured or uninsured for flood and wind damages and didn’t have revenue insured either. Further, as disasters put businesses deeper into debt, only one-third of government SBA loan applications were approved.

SMBs can learn from how Fortune 100 companies think and what they do toward business continuity.

Let’s borrow this high-level outline displaying IBM’s major goals for developing a disaster recovery plan:

· To minimize interruptions to normal operations.

· To limit the extent of disruption and damage.

· To minimize the economic impact of the interruption.

· To establish alternative means of operation in advance.

· To train personnel with emergency procedures.

· To provide for smooth and rapid restoration of service.

Even if you are an SMB, you can pull together a team to go through and ask, “what, for your specific organization, in your specific area of the country, will provide the best outcomes for each of these points?”

And as far as business continuity is concerned, does it really matter if climate disaster is anthropocentric or not? According to a Harvard Business Review study on risk management, the cost to businesses and taxpayers from increasing climate disasters is on a steep slope up.

Imagine your business is in this scenario if you are one of the 27% of businesses that are shut down for over a month and 17% closed for three months! How will your employees respond? How will you get back on your feet and open doors again?

According to U.S. climate migration statistics from the International Disaster Database, if we look at their internal migration data and take a 5-year average of the displaced people, there is a doubling of approximately every 2.5 years. That means that by the year 2024, about 3,000,000 people may leave their homes for, hopefully, greener pastures. If you review the increase in fires, floods, and other climate-related charts from Our World in Data, you will see a clear correlation of what drives this migration.

If you are in a zone that is already showing a significant probability of climate or migration disruption, please get your emergency management plan in place now. Involve your employees. Be inclusive. Look out for them. It is a small price to pay to sleep better and night know you have built a solid team that is truly looking out for each other when a crisis comes.



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