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Is Your Business Ready if it Floods?


Disaster Preparedness: Is Your Business Ready if it Floods?

By: Adam M. Matheny

Planning Ahead

Small business owners have a lot on their plate—they’re responsible for so much. And when a natural disaster strikes, that burden can be even more challenging. Planning ahead can help you navigate the difficulties a flood could pose for your business.

You can’t stop floods from happening—but you can be prepared with reasonable precautions that will help protect your livelihood.

Here are some key tips to help you prepare in the event of a flood:

  • Are you familiar with your area’s flood maps? If you aren’t, you should be. FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) provides flood maps that detail the likelihood of flooding, along with its risks and hazards, in various areas. These maps are revised from time to time to reflect changes in an area’s topography—check their website for updates.
  • Invest in flood insurance. Even if your area isn’t considered high risk, changes in our climate have made many more areas susceptible to flooding.
  • Flood boards are special PVC boards that can be fitted to doors and windows if flooding is expected; they’re also reusable.
  • Non-return valves are installed in your property’s manhole. They keep sewage from flowing back up the pipes into your property during a flood. Sewage water can do irreparable damage to your property.
  • Raise your electrical sockets. Higher electrical sockets are less likely to come into contact with water during a flood.
  • Create and document a formal flood plan. When you know flooding is a possibility, create a flood plan manual. That way, everyone will know their role in the event there is flooding.
  • Train your employees. Writing a policy is great, but only if everyone is familiar with it. Refresh training at regular intervals.
  • If you have flood insurance, know what your plan offers. Read through it, and have your agent explain anything you don’t understand.
  • Speaking of agents, make sure you have one that is dependable and will work to get the best possible plan for your needs.
  • Build a good relationship with local contractors and builders. Work with local companies when you need upgrades and restorations—you’ll already have a strong connection when you need help after a flood.
  • Use cloud backup. Local data storage might be convenient for day to day work, but you will be extremely relieved to have a backup if you suddenly have to work remotely—or if your servers are damaged in the flood.
  • Make redundant employee contact lists, including hard copies, and make sure everyone has them.
  • Keep enough capital on hand to keep your employees paid. They’re going to need uninterrupted cash flow in the event of an emergency, as well.
  • If flooding does occur, look into recovery disaster loans for small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) can help. These loans can help you get back to business quickly. They can’t be used for payroll, however. Also, keep in mind that FEMA’s resources are for individuals, not businesses—so go straight to the SBA.

Flooding can be devastating, but how much long-term damage it does to your business is something you can help mitigate with property preparation.

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