Business Preparedness for Isaac Doesn't Have to Start at Square One

August 27, 2012

//Editor's Update -- 10/25/12: With Tropical Storm Sandy bearing down on the Caribbean and U.S. East Coast, this article is a good refresher about the business resources available to help weather the storm.//  

Now, with another hurricane looming, it's time to put those experiences to the test and prove that the tough lessons from the past have not been forgotten. Hopefully, this time we will be writing books about what we did right, not what we did wrong.  

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a strong category 3 hurricane near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana, with hurricane force winds that extended outward for 120 miles. The storm surge caused 53 different levee breaches in greater New Orleans, causing flooding in 80% of the city. The storm surge devastated the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, causing a total of $81.2 billion (2005 dollars) of damage.  This is nearly double the cost of the previously most-expensive storm, Hurricane Andrew, even when adjusting for inflation. 1,836 people lost their lives as a result of Katrina.

Today, Tropical Storm Isaac is gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico and is predicted to impact New Orleans on August 29, exactly seven years after Katrina’s landfall. Thankfully, the storm is not expected to strengthen to Hurricane Katrina levels, but the impact could still be great. The National Hurricane Center is currently predicting that Isaac will make landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast as a category 1 hurricane.

But already, the storm is impacting oil and gas production in the Gulf Coast, as energy producers shut down some of their operations to prepare for the storm. Some residents are stocking up on supplies, while thousands of others have been asked to evacuate. States of emergency have been declared in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi in preparation for the storm. 

Small businesses will likely -- once again -- be amongst the most vulnerable populations. Even if businesses survive the storm with minimal physical damage, many do not have the cash reserves to withstand lower foot traffic or customer activity, power outage, and employee absenteeism that is common during hurricanes. 

We are asking small businesses to take advantage of these resources to help them get back to business as quickly as possible after the storm.

BCLC partnered with the Office Depot Foundation to offer disaster preparedness tips for small businesses that might be affected. We also run the Disaster Help Desk for Business (1-888-MY-BIZ-HELP / 888-692-4943) to help businesses cope with their individual situations.  We are asking small businesses to take advantage of these resources to help them get back to businesses as quickly as possible after the storm. 

For the past seven years, lessons about Hurricane Katrina have been widespread in the news, amongst government agencies, in emergency management circles, and in the private sector. Now, with another hurricane looming, it's time to put those experiences to the test and prove that the tough lessons from the past have not been forgotten. Hopefully, this time we will be writing books about what we did right, not what we did wrong.