Self-reliance and preparedness are critical to surviving disasters

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Self-reliance and preparedness are critical to surviving disasters

By Regional Administrator Justin Crosse

 Sitting in my Louisiana kitchen, I remember watching the morning news report about a small tropical depression named Katrina forming out in the Caribbean waters. Like other Louisianans, I had seen this sort of thing before and did not give much thought to what was about to happen.

Two days later, Tropical Storm Katrina is now Hurricane Katrina churning faster and more forcefully, growing wider, and ultimately spinning into one of the costliest storms in U.S. history. You know the rest of the story.

Major disasters tend to break apart, burn down and flood our feelings of complacency, exposing our lack of preparation to deal with the aftermath. During September National Disaster Preparedness Month, we’re urging everyone to put a plan in place now. You’ll rebound sooner with less impact to your nerves and financial reserves.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster team is on the ground within days following a declared disaster. SBA helps rebuild homes, businesses, and communities by providing affordable, loans to businesses of all sizes, nonprofits, including churches, homeowners and renters to cover uninsured losses. Nearly $5 billion in SBA disaster loans were approved between fiscal years 2015 and 2018 in the South Central Region states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. These loans supported about 70,000 applicants with critically needed funds in the wake of tornadoes, floods, droughts, and hurricanes.
Having lived through Hurricane Katrina, I take the following steps seriously to protect me and my family: Review your hazard and flood coverage to ensure your policy is in effect before a storm hits. Keep your insurance policy information, phone numbers for your insurance agent and the claims department handy.

Know who you can call to help you clean/rebuild your business and have a restoration plan in place so you can focus on the task of quickly reopening your business. Keep an updated list of all your employees’ contact numbers and email addresses to ensure safety, as well as keeping everyone in the loop about the recovery progress. Obtain a line of credit or have enough cash to run your business for at least three months. Move your important business records, personal memorabilia and anything that’s irreplaceable to an offsite location. Save as much as you possibly can to the cloud.

I like to keep copies and photos of my important documents in zip lock bags stuffed in tightly sealed plastic containers in a safe place. As Hurricane Katrina got closer, a lot of people took medicine and packed bags for a 3-day weekend. However, some people couldn’t get back to their homes for weeks and months. Always keep an emergency kit stocked and ready to grab and go with essential family and business needs.

Hurricane Katrina began as a small of a storm and turned into a roaring monster. None of us ever thought it would happen to us. But it did. As we are witnessing with Hurricane Dorian, storms continue to brew, and disaster continues to strike. The results of complacency can be expensive. Backing up and preparing now is cheap.

Are you prepared to recover when disaster strikes? Can you prove that your company even existed? Can you prove you had the items that were lost?
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