How to Make the Most Out of the Disaster Help Desk for Business

August 14, 2019

In recent months, the U.S. Chamber Foundation shared numerous stories and tips to assist small business owners with disaster preparedness. 

At the U.S. Chamber Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center, we’ve seen it too many times—small business owners overburdened by the financial and mental stress of dealing with a natural disaster. 

No matter the size of a disaster, be it a hurricane or wildfire, or more contained such as a tree falling on a roof, the effect on each business owner is still the same: confusion about what to do next, complexity in navigating insurance and government aid, and financial hardship while returning to business as usual. 

Quite distressing is the fact that 43% of businesses that face a disaster will not reopen. Statistics show that of the 30 million small businesses in the U.S., a quarter of them will experience a disaster. That’s 7.5 million business owners dealing with the aftermath of a disaster.

Disaster preparedness measures will never fully alleviate the stress of going through a disaster, but they will raise the likelihood that small businesses, which are at the heart of our economy, will stay open.

Using the Disaster Help Desk for Business 

The Disaster Help Desk for Business is a free resource providing hands-on guidance and online information on two fronts:

  • Business Preparedness
  • Immediate Relief and Long-term Recovery

And, it’s not just for individual small businesses. Local and state chambers of commerce are invited to reuse any information the Help Desk publishes. By sharing the Help Desk hotline and published resources, local and state chambers can play a proactive role at no cost in helping their members be ready to remain open if a disaster strikes. The same goes for local newspapers, too. 

Here are the free resources the Disaster Help Desk for Business provides:     

BUSINESS PREPAREDNESS

  • Information: Many of our articles on the Help Desk “Why Readiness Matters” portal are straightforward checklists of actions small businesses can take to better prepare for a variety of disasters. A common misconception of disaster planning is that it’s too expensive or too time-consuming. These articles help business owners understand how to take bite-size actions that will help them protect their business, employees, and customers for the long-term. 
  • Stories from Other Business Owners: One of the most powerful aspects of the business community is learning from peers who have gone through similar challenges before. Their lessons become preparedness insights for others. Read examples of the Help Desk in action here.
  • Expert Advice: When you call the Help Desk at 888-MY-BIZ-HELP or contact us using our online form, you get a real person on the other end of the line. The Help Desk Manager is Inés Pearce, an award-winning disaster preparedness and mitigation expert who has been inducted into the Contingency Planning & Management Hall of Fame. Before a disaster ever strikes, the Help Desk team is readily available to hear from individual businesses and assist them with understanding the steps they should take to become disaster ready. 
  • Toolkits: The Help Desk web portal connects visitors to a great planning resource called “Resilience in a Box.” Resilience in a Box comes with resiliency workbooks, preparedness checklists, and a quiz to assess how disaster ready individual businesses are. At any time when using these online resources, questions can be answered by our Help Desk team using our hotline, 888-MY-BIZ-HELP, or our online form.

IMMEDIATE RELIEF AND LONG-TERM RECOVERY

  • Customized Advice: It’s overwhelming to go through a disaster. It’s difficult to know what to do first, especially when the magnitude of the disaster prevents business owners from accessing their physical location for days on end. No matter how complex the situation, the Help Desk team listens to each individual business’s scenario and gives step-by-step advice on what needs to be done, who to connect with, and what to ask. This service is at no cost to any business that uses the Help Desk. The team can be reached at 888-MY-BIZ-HELP and is quick at returning phone messages and online form requests.
  • Access to People Who Want to Help: The Chamber Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center is a convenor and connector of relief agencies, corporate philanthropists, and impact-zone chambers of commerce whenever a large-scale disaster strikes. The more the Help Desk team learns about on-the-ground needs in the aftermath of a disaster, the better we can inform those who want to help. Through Help Desk information-sharing and coordination, numerous small business relief and recovery funds have been set up through local chambers of commerce to assist their members.   

Disaster recovery can take the form of weeks, months, or years in some cases. The Help Desk team stays engaged with disaster events well after the immediate aftermath has taken place. It’s never too late to contact the Help Desk team for free disaster recovery guidance. 

We invite you to subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly Help Desk information and to be informed of educational conference calls and convenings that are related to specific disaster events. 

From all of us at the Disaster Help Desk for Business, be ready and stay open! 

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