Hurricane Irene and Small Business

Storms such as Hurricane Irene prove the old adage:

One man’s misfortune is another man’s gain.

The hurricane shut restaurants and events, and killed tourism on most of the East Coast for one of the last weekends of the summer season. But at the same time, my local hardware store had lines of customers out the door before and after the storm. The local deli was packed because people without electricity wanted hot food. Anyone with a chainsaw has work around the clock for the foreseeable future.

Besides proving the old adage, the storm and other natural events just demonstrate a few things:

  • We can’t control nature. No matter where you are situated, you’re likely to experience devastating natural occurrences from time to time. The events could be tornadoes, earthquakes, mudslides, fires, or severe winter storms. At their worst, these events cause destruction and even loss of life. At best, they are serious disruptions to businesses and personal lives.
  • We can be prepared to minimize the effects of devastation. This includes having disaster plans in place — for our business and our families. Strategies on where to go in case of an ordered evacuation are necessary, as are keeping basic supplies on hand. Phone chains or other communication plans to alert employees not to come to work and when to return are essential. Insurance coverage for likely types of occurrences within your area is crucial. If you are in a flood zone, you need flood insurance; your business owner’s policy (BOP) won’t protect you. Also, consider business interruption coverage to have funds to pay bills while you are not operating due to a storm or other event. If you are like the majority of small businesses and lack a disaster plan, create one now. There’s helpful material from the SBA.
  • We can manage our attitude. Determination to weather the storm and return to normal as quickly as possible goes a long way in realizing the goal. Concern for and assistance to neighbors, associates, and friends seems to abound following dramatic occurrences like Irene, and it shows the best within us.
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