What Businesses Should Know About Building Resilience

For the past ten years, the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission’s Emergency Preparedness Public-Private Partnership (EPP) has supported emergency management in Southeast Louisiana and South Mississippi. The EPP shares lessons learned and best practices highlighted by experts who present to the partnership to strengthen the region’s emergency preparedness and response.

The partnership also encourages agencies, businesses, and organizations to build resilience into their continuity of operations plans (COOP). Additionally, businesses are encouraged to register their products and/or services with the Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center (BEOC), for opportunities associated with rebuilding the community following a disaster. 

Organizations and agencies are used as “force multipliers” in getting the word out on key issues and alerts, such as hurricane season preparations, major road closures and extreme weather, points of dispensing (PODs) as countermeasures to disease and other health emergencies, and cybersecurity issues.

The partnership features cross-sector members ranging from emergency managers and medical responders to federal agencies (including Federal Executive Board, National Weather Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), professional trade associations, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, Red Cross, convention centers, sports arenas, local fire and police departments, faith-based organizations, and small and large businesses.

Below we’ve outlined some of the best practices identified throughout the life of this partnership to help businesses become more prepared. As these examples show, the most successful and resilient businesses are those that take an “all-hazards approach” to disasters.

Top Recommendations to Build a Resilient Business

  • Cross-train your people, as you never know which key personnel will be available when disaster strikes.  
  • Get to know your county/parish emergency manager, as well as a key contact at the National Weather Service.  
  • Order extra cash in advance of disasters, as you never know whether banks and/or ATMs will be functioning following the event.
  • Make sure that your local emergency manager has a list of chemicals and other types of potentially dangerous products in your facility, so that first responders understand the hazards that are associated with your business.
  • Bringing specialists to the table to address the disaster is of utmost importance.  And emergency managers should be engaging private sector partners in this endeavor.
  • When addressing your supply chain, make sure that your small business suppliers/vendors have a qualified workforce to meet your demands, and that those suppliers have an effective continuity of operations plan that allows them to respond to disasters.
  • Businesses ought to sign up with their state’s Business Emergency Operations Center (BEOC) or similar entity if they feel they have a product or service to offer.  Otherwise, their unique product/service might have to be sourced from an out-of-state vendor following a disaster.
  • Train/exercise/test your Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), including nights and weekends.
  • Following a disaster, sit down with all responders (i.e. public sector, private sector, and volunteers) to recap lessons learned and determine what can be improved on in the future.

To learn more about this partnership and ways to partner with the EPP, contact claborde@norpc.org