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Along with causing destruction to the homes of many residents earlier this spring, flooding also affected many businesses throughout Nebraska.

Across the state, more than 1,000 businesses were affected by the winter storm that resulted in a major disaster declaration earlier this year.

While still assessing damage from the recent spring floods, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are urging all business owners and managers to prepare now for the next disaster.

“The sooner the private sector bounces back after a disaster, the quicker the whole community recovers,” Constance C. Johnson-Cage of FEMA, who is the federal coordinating officer for the March storm, said. “Survivors need to feed their family, fill their gas tank and get back to work.”

For business owners, preparation for the next potential disaster can start with a disaster recovery plan.

A survey commissioned by Nationwide insurance company in 2015 found that three in four small business owners do not have a disaster recovery plan in place, but more than half of those surveyed said it would take at least three months to recover from a disaster.

“Businesses that can weather a storm can supply vital resources, minimize hardships and jumpstart recovery,” Earl Imler of NEMA, who serves as the state coordinating officer, said. “Those businesses that have a disaster preparedness plan — and implement it — have less damage, loss and downtime than those without a plan.”

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To promote both readiness and resilience, Nebraska formed a coalition of leaders from key state agencies and businesses called the Nebraska Preparedness Partnership (NPP) in 2014.

NPP offers training, exercises and networking for businesses of all sizes.

“A disaster preparedness plan protects people, property and data,” Director of NPP Sandra Hobson said. “A plan must ensure continuity of operations for a wide range of scenarios — even total destruction. Provisions should be made to relocate to a pre-identified site, retrieve business records and carry on with minimal staff.”

To be better prepared for potential disasters, whenever they may come, Hobson advises business owners to follow certain procedures and steps:

  • Conduct a risk assessment to identify potential hazards.
  • Develop procedures to quickly evacuate or shelter in place. Then run drills to practice.
  • Back up your records and critical data. Keep a copy offsite or in the cloud.
  • Create a crisis communications plan to keep your employees, customers, vendors and the public up to date on your operations.
  • Install a generator for your building’s essential electrical circuits in case of a power outage.

For more information on disaster preparedness, please visit: NEprep.org/preparedness/make-a-plan, or NEMA.nebraska.gov/operations/business or FEMA’s ready.gov/business.

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