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There are obviously limits to what can be done during a natural disaster (or some other form of disaster, for that matter) when it comes to your business. See here for a discussion of the different types of management that can occur during a natural disaster, but read on for some commentary on how to manage disaster relief and recovery yourself. Surviving a disaster is the first step for anyone; after it has passed, then you can begin to work on repairing the damage done to your business.
The most important thing to remember is that, even if you live in a place which has been declared a disaster area, that does not mean that federal aid will be immediately forthcoming. To a certain extent, you are on your own, and it is best to proceed as though this will always be the case. A good business continuity plan assumes that federal aid will be funnelled towards civilian aid, rather than helping businesses get back on their feet.
- Contact your insurance company immediately after the disaster.
It is best to get in touch with your insurance company as soon as you can after a disaster, and definitely before you have begun to clean up, as the company will need accurate pictures and information in order to put together a claim. Many, if not all, insurance companies have quick-response teams which can be notified to come out in the vent of disasters for just this reason.
Remember to keep any and all items which have been irreparably damaged – it will be much easier to claim on them if you have the proof that they were damaged in the first place.
- Stay on top of communication.
When the worst of the disaster rescue efforts and insurance claims are over, it is time to think about your customers. Let them know what’s happening by whatever means you have available – email, social media, websites – and let them know about delays, time schedules, and when you expect to be back online.
Honesty is the best policy here – don’t try and sugar-coat what is happening – the customers will know that a natural disaster has taken place, and so will know that the company will be experience difficulties. Remember to give details of how long things will take, and what is being done to bring everything back online.
- Seek assistance.
Various smaller groups may be able to provide you with some additional assistance on the side of financial help for recovering after a natural disaster, so make sure that you and your company look around to see what is available. The financial aid which is available for small businesses is different from that available for larger ones, so be sure that you are applying for the right loans.
That being said, any business can apply for a loan to help them for a short time with repairs and general overhead during this time, even if the property itself hasn’t been damaged. The extra money can go towards preparing for another disaster, helping with shipping times because of the delays occasioned by the disaster, and anything else which seems appropriate at this time.