In acknowledgement of the impact a natural disaster has on a business, a disaster preparedness forum has been organized for Feb. 13, 2013, Preparing for a Disaster: What Your Business Needs to Know! The forum is being hosted by The Applied Science Foundation for Homeland Security, D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), InfraGard National Capital Region Members Alliance, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and The George Washington University.
Over the past several years, the DC metropolitan area has experienced the impact of a range of weather systems—the 2010 snow storm, Hurricane Irene, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, Tropical Storm Lee, the storm for which we learned a new term for a straight-line wind storm—derecho, the sudden fast moving and violent storm of September 8, 2012.
After a disaster we all want to recover and get back to normal. As a reminder of the impact of the derecho, here is a recital from HSEMA damage reports: 69 fallen trees, 31 of which fell in tree-lined areas of Ward 3, like Chevy Chase; PEPCO’s reports of 63,696 customers without power, many residences and businesses for an extended period. At the height of the storm, malfunctioning traffic signals, 63 in DC, with travel further complicated by gas stations with disabled pumps due to a power outage. The derecho also attracted national coverage with the suspension of play at the AT&T National golf tournament on Saturday, June 30.
With a focus on the drought, the Small Business Administration (SBA) co-hosted a free webinar with Agility Recovery, Start Building Your Disaster Recovery Plan TODAY! The webinar presentation noted that one of the major disruptions to businesses during a disaster is (1) power loss (40 percent), requiring a generator as a part of a back-up plan; (2) loss or sales and customers; (3) length of recovery; and (4) uninsured losses. The impact of a disaster in disrupting a business played out with the derecho. Several local grocery stores in DC and Chevy Chase lost power and refrigerated inventory and remained closed for up to a week, as did specialty stores at Wildwood Shopping Center. Washington Post reporter Abba Bhattarai interviewed Mark Ingrao, chief executive of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, who reported that "Most of the Reston Town Center lost power. All of the offices within the core were pretty much out of business, and unfortunately there was no back-up generator. I talked to a number of restaurants that said they lost between $40,000 and $60,000 of food during that time."
A federally declared disaster is followed by federal disaster assistance provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist impacted communities cover the cost of disaster recovery with the Small Business Administration (SBA) offering low interest loans to businesses, specifically (1) Physical Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged property, including real estate, inventories, supplies, equipment and machinery; (2) Economic Injury Disaster Loans to cover working capital needs to help a business meet financial obligations during disaster recovery until normal operations resume. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers special tax relief to taxpayers in a Presidential Declared Disaster Areas.
The Feb. 13 forum is intended to begin a discussion with businesses on the available resources to recover from a natural disaster and business continuity planning. Businesses are encouraged to register no later than Friday, Feb. 8, at http://disasterprepncr021313.eventbrite.com. Hope you plan to attend.
Generator Price Too Much for Some Small Businesses, by Laura L. Thornton, Chevy Chase Patch, Aug. 7, 2012.
Businesses trying to assess effects of storm, power outage, by Abha Bhattarai, The Washington Post, July 12, 2012.