When a disaster occurs, businesses must take care of their employees’ needs, communicate the impact, address financial matters (e.g., insurance, disaster assistance), restore operations, and organize recovery. Below are resources to help reopen your business and make progress through long-term recovery. For more details, visit: www.uschamberfoundation.org/ccc.
Top 10 Tips for Recovery
- Implement your disaster plan. Assess damage and consider if a backup location is needed.
- Shift your team and leadership from preparedness to recovery.
- Implement a communications strategy to ensure that the facts go directly to employees, suppliers, customers, and the media.
- Encourage employees to take appropriate actions and communicate.
- Document damage, file insurance claims, and track recovery.
- Cultivate partnerships in the community with businesses, government, and nonprofits.
- Provide employee support and assistance.
- Connect with chambers of commerce, economic development, and other community support organizations.
- Document lessons learned and update your plan.
- Contact the Disaster Help Desk for support at 1-888-MY-BIZ-HELP (1-888-692-4943), or visit www.facebook.com/USCCFhelpdesk or https://twitter.com/USCCFhelpdesk.
Checklists and Additional Tips
- Responding to Disaster: Tips from the Frontline – Helpful info-graphic of key items to consider
- This is a checklist for reopening your business after a disaster: http://bit.ly/1zwEYcI
- This very simple checklist provides items to consider as you prepare to reopen. http://bit.ly/1qeWQc9
- This guide provides tips on communications, returning to your site, and the human element needed for resuming business operations after a disaster. http://bit.ly/1wP0Qg9
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest loans and other resources to assist small businesses post disaster. http://1.usa.gov/K76sRE
- Register for federal disaster assistance, when available, at the SBA Customer Service Center - Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides updates on current disaster events and assistance for employees who have damage at their homes. www.FEMA.gov
- When Disaster Hits Home: A Story of Resilience and Recovery – How a business responded both in their community and with their employees.
Below is a list of categories for available recovery resources:
- Immediate Needs, Emergency Response & Recovery
- Recovery Guidance
- Financial Assistance / Funding / Taxes
- Recovery Resources
- IT Disaster Recovery
- Mental Health
- Individual, Families, Employees and Community Recovery
Immediate Needs, Emergency Response & Recovery
- Google Person Finder – This app helps people connect with family and employees after a disaster.
- Safe and Well - Register or search the Red Cross’ Safe and Well listing here.
- Google Public Alerts – This service allows you to go online to search for the latest information during an emergency, and will disseminate relevant emergency alerts to you when/where you need them.
- National Disaster Help Desk – Provides assistance to businesses struck by disasters across the country. Dial 1-888-MY-BIZ-HELP or 1-888-692-4943 to get help navigating the disaster assistance realm. Also posts helpful info on Facebook, Twitter, and to its blogs.
- FEMA Text Messages is a service that allows you to use your cell phone’s text messaging capability to receive text updates from FEMA (standard message and data rates apply).To sign up for monthly preparedness tips: text PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA).
- US Small Business Administration (SBA) – The SBA has low-interest loans and other resources to assist small businesses after a disaster. No obligations. Register BEFORE the deadline ends to keep your options open. Get more information here www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/disaster-loans.
- SBA Customer Service Center - Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or email email@example.com
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – Provides updates on current disaster events
- Ready.gov/business (FEMA) – Has many business-focused tips and resources on what to do during different types of disasters.
- FEMA Private Sector – This page lists mobile apps, resources for businesses, and other info.
- Information to Help Small Business Owners Make Post-Disaster Business Decisions –Provides perspective and asks the difficult questions that need to be asked after a disaster, such as whether it is a good idea to re-open or not, and long-term issues to consider.
- Disaster Recovery and Continuity Guide – This guide provides worksheets and question matrices on all things recovery. Starts with basic planning tips, hazard assessment, etc., but the bulk of this guide is in recovery, with useful worksheets (ignore Colorado-specific numbers).
- Disaster Recovery Guide for Business – A working guide to help a business think through what they need to do after a disaster using worksheets, checklists, tables, etc. Includes an assessment of the business post-disaster, whether reopening is feasible, funding, and re-opening steps.
- Disaster Recovery Toolkit for Small Businesses – Helpful guide with checklists and prompts on all recovery topics.
- Business Recovery Planning Success Stories – Provides six different lessons-learned stories from businesses affected by disasters.
- Tax Relief in Disaster Situations – Links to disasters across the US and the resources, information, and tools for each region.
- Disaster Preparedness and Recovery for Community Development Organizations — Getting Back to Business (pages 37-41) provides tips and thoughts for Community Development Organizations and small businesses. Rest of document covers pre-planning and Business Continuity Planning (BCP)/Continuity of Operations (COOP).
- Hurricane Preparedness for Business: What to do Before, During and After a Disaster – Use the Recovery Checklist “After the Storm” (pages 3-5) for bullet points of different ideas and issues to consider.
- Community Economic Recovery Guidebook – This is a helpful guidebook that covers all phases of planning for a disaster, specifically Recovery (pages 10-12). It gives tips, resources, and other websites that can provide perspective and assistance.
- Helping Families Recovery After Disaster: The Family Financial Toolkit – As small businesses owners need to also take care of disaster impacts at home, this toolkit provides resources lessons learned, case examples, etc.
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Checklist for Small Business Owners – Eleven simple, great tips for recovery.
- Disaster Cleanup – Tips and resources from the SBA that includes fact sheets and info from CDC, EPA, FEMA, OSHA.
- “Getting Back to Business” brochure from the Institute for Business and Home Safety.
- 2014 State of Global Disaster Recovery (Annual Report) Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark Survey - Provides an overview of the current state of disaster recovery preparedness for organizations worldwide.
- Relief and Recovery Assistance Guide – Great recovery information with good tips to navigate recovery, registrations, national resources, etc. (ignore New Jersy or Sandy-specific contact information).
- Business Continuity Plan: Components and Sequencing Description – A Recovery Plan template with tables, checklists, Yes/No questions, etc.
- Small Business Disaster Recovery Checklist – Four quick tips to prepare for recovery.
- Disaster Recovery: Best Practices – This guide details how to create a recovery plan for your business.
Federal Financial Assistance / Funding / Taxes
- US Small Business Administration (SBA) – The SBA has low-interest loans and other resources to assist small businesses after a disaster.
- SBA online loan application – You are encouraged to apply BEFORE the deadline. There is no obligation to accept the funds, but keeps your options open if needed.
- SBA paper copy of loan application – You can print this application and submit it via mail or in-person at a Disaster Recovery Center/Business Recovery Center..
- SBA Loans Factsheets – Details on different types of SBA loans.
- SBA Customer Service Center: Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- DisasterAssistance.gov – This FEMA site provides disaster survivors with information and services during times of disaster. Programs to assist individuals and homeowners may be useful to your employees. You can register for assistance even if you are not sure you need or want it.
- Disaster Resource Guide for Individuals and Businesses – Guide to understanding IRS resources available after a disaster, such as claim unreimbursed casualty losses on damaged property; includes forms and numbers.
- Preparing for a Disaster (Taxpayers and Businesses) – Encourages planning, tips for safeguarding documents, and tracking valuable IRS resources such as completing the Loss Workbook after a disaster.
- Tax Relief for Disaster Situations (IRS) – After your area is declared a disaster, this page provides tax relief information from the IRS.
- Disaster Assistance for Business – Overview of all Federal Assistance and resources (ignore Nevada-specific info).
- Disaster Recovery (SBA) – A self-paced guide to SBA Assistance Programs, tips, resources, etc.
- Disaster Assistance – Resources available from SBA to businesses, individuals, and families.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – FEMA’s main site has information on what to do before, during, and after disaster.
- IRS Videos on Disaster Subjects – Informative videos to help businesses that have been affected by disasters.
- US Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Provides disaster assistance information for farmers and ranchers
- Disaster Recovery Small Business Loan or Grant Program –How to create opportunities for loans or grants for area businesses.
This is a topic no one wants to discuss; yet it is critical to recovery. There are resources to help minor to severe trauma by allowing people to express their experiences. By ignoring the problem, it may only get worse, and your business may lose key people at critical recovery times. It is better to address issues or needs up front and allow staff to debrief.
- Disaster Distress Helpline - To reach out for free 24/7 counseling or support, contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746. TTY for Deaf/Hearing Impaired: 1-800-846-8517. To see the Red Cross page for this resource click here.
- American Psychological Association – Works with the Red Cross on crisis counseling.
- Traumatic Stress: How to Recover from Disasters and other Traumatic Events –Covers a lot of information with how to, tips, and guidance.
Individual, Families, Employees and Community Recovery
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – FEMA’s main site has information on what to do before, during, and after disaster. To register for assistance, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov
- The American Red Cross – Assists with finding shelter, loved ones, or other services.
“Keep detailed records of business activity and the extra expenses of keeping your business operating in a temporary location during the interruption period. If you are forced to close down, include expenses that continue during the time that the business is closed, such as advertising and the cost of utilities” -- The Insurance Information Institute
- Document damage by taking photos or videos. Review your policy, contact your insurance company to file a claim, and document cleanup or repairs with receipts and photos. Get two or more quotes for repairs, check contractor licenses, and document expenses and losses that can be compared with pre-disaster numbers.
- Per the Insurance Information Institute (iii), “Keep detailed records of business activity and the extra expenses of keeping your business operating in a temporary location during the interruption period. If you are forced to close down, include expenses that continue during the time that the business is closed, such as advertising and the cost of utilities.
- 10 tips on how to work with the insurance company, file a claim, and other items. http://bit.ly/1xxPN0c
- How to document and calculate loss. http://bit.ly/1EVGng1
- In the Wake of the Storm: Five Reminders about Your Insurance Coverage – Great tips post-Hurricane Sandy on filing different types of claims, potential issues (ignore West Virginia-specific numbers).
- Has Your Business Been Affected by Hurricane Sandy? Understanding Your Insurance Can Help You Get Your Business Back in the Black – Starts with lessons learned from Sandy then includes four tips on ‘How to file a Business Claim’.
- Speak UP: How to communicate with your insurance company – Simple tips on how to work with your insurance company after a disaster.
- When Disaster Strikes: Are You Sure that Your Business is Adequately Insured? – Article explaining policy coverage and waiting periods, business interruption, etc. (pages 17 & 18).
- Getting (Back To) Business Interruption Insurance – Comprehensive overview on business interruption insurance, things to know, how to navigate.
- Answering Your Questions About Business Insurance – Interesting article with general information and tips to be aware of; includes Q&A on business insurance.
- National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Summary of Coverage for Commercial Property – General information about flood insurance coverage, options, and understanding terms.
- Property Insurance and Disaster Recovery – An interesting article covering insurance coverage, as well as other things to be aware of during recovery.
- Missouri Small Business & Technology Centers: Insurance Claims – Great information and tips, step-by-step guide for filing claims, available disaster assistance, etc. (ignore Missouri-specific phone numbers).
- The Role of Insurance Intermediaries – A white paper on insurance and risk management.
- Insurance Checklist for Disasters (BBB) – One-page checklist about how to navigate insurance and repairs post disaster.
- Maximizing Insurance Recovery for Loss Resulting from Tornados and Other Natural Disasters – Helps insurance policy holders or those seeking insurance to navigate potential issues.
- Settling Property Insurance Claims – An overview document discussing how to work with insurance companies after a disaster (ignore Wisconsin-specific numbers).
- The Basics of Business Interruption Insurance – Provides a basic understanding of filing a business interruption insurance claim, document preparation, etc.
- Procedures for Filing Major Loss Property Insurance Claims – Assistance with filing a claim (ignore Hawaii-specific numbers).
- Flood Insurance Claims Handbook (FEMA) – Assistance with filing a claim on National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) coverage.
- Insurance Claims After Hurricane Katrina – Discusses lessons learned during the insurance claim process following Hurricane Katrina.
- A Guide for Individuals to Insurance Coverage for Losses from Hurricane Katrina: Proving the Amount of the Loss – Discusses lessons learned during the insurance claim process following Hurricane Katrina.
- Disaster Recovery Guide - Discusses lessons learned during the insurance claim process following Hurricane Ike.
- Lessons Learned from Hurricane Sandy – Presentation covering disaster management, three areas of lessons learned, and specific impact stories from recovery professionals’ experiences.
- If you don’t have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), consider starting one. An EAP will help your business and your employees cope with the aftermath of a disaster.
- An EAP can further aid employees who have experienced trauma from a disaster and any associated losses. This includes helping executives and other company leadership who may have a difficult time focusing during recovery.
- After a disaster employees may experience increased fear, grief, stress, sadness, and anxiety, often continuing for weeks or months. Point employees to your EAP or crisis counselors for assistance. Address all employees by holding a disaster debrief to discuss what happened and what resources are available to them.
- To alleviate stress and minimize confusion, your leadership should communicate with employees about how the company is addressing recovery and what resources exist for employees.
- Continue to update employees on the business’ ongoing recovery.
- Consider ways that your company can help employees’ and their families access medical care, food, housing, and other essentials.
- Those hit hardest may not have working phones or the ability to call area resources to find new housing, childcare, animal care facilities, a rental car, or other services necessary to restoring their daily lives. Find or connect employees to needed resources, then share with other employees, customers, and the public.
- Use the human resources (HR) department’s employee hotline, or create one, to take calls regarding employees’ disaster needs. Make sure to keep needs confidential.
- Un-impacted employees are often willing to help fellow employees with caring for pets, carpooling, housing a family, loaning lost equipment like computers or cell phones, and organizing fundraisers to replace lost items.
- Disaster Distress Helpline —To reach out for free 24/7 counseling or support, contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746. TTY for Deaf/Hearing Impaired: 1-800-846-8517. Visit http://rdcrss.org/1hsTafJ.
- There are many online tools to help employees cope with disaster: http://bit.ly/1ydWoKh
- Recovering and Rebuilding After a Disaster: Part 4 – Helping Your Employees Through a Crisis – Article discussing how to talk with employees and assist them during a difficult time.
- A business guide to helping employees following a Hurricane: http://bit.ly/1qPqsrr
- A Manager’s Handbook: Handling Traumatic Events – Discusses Employee Assistance Programs following disaster.
- 5 Ways to Help Employees Affected by Disaster – Lists useful tips to help employees recover emotionally and financially.
- IRS: Help During Disasters – Comprehensive list of resources for employers or employees facing the effects of disaster.
Documentation and Administrative Recovery
- Use photos and videos to document damage to property, inventory, equipment, and other losses. Document all repairs (e.g., boarding up broken windows, holes in a roof). Document the repair and restoration process until normal operation is resumed.
- Make a list of damaged or lost items and, if possible, include date of purchase, value, and receipts.
- Document all extra expenses you incur in the process of resuming operations, including renting equipment (until yours is repaired or replaced), temporarily leasing another location, marketing, and moving expenses.
- File a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible, if needed.
- Ask your insurance agent to review your business to determine what needs to be covered (e.g., loss of net income, operating expenses that need to be paid while closed, or extra expenses incurred afterward) so that you can begin addressing how you will cover it. “How” includes insurance policies, loans, and credit.
- Keep all important documents in one place, backed up, and stored off-site where they are accessible. This will save precious time. Add security (e.g., encrypting) to protect key financial data, bank accounts, etc.
- Copies of documents or information you should have available may vary depending on the type of business, but can include: insurance policies, leases, recent income tax forms, historical sales records, inventory, employees’ computer equipment and software inventory, contracts especially Service-Level Agreements (SLA). You may need to produce copies of some of these documents as part of the recovery. Make sure you do not lose your only hard copies in the process.
- Disaster Relief for Individuals and Small Businesses – Created after Hurricane Sandy, it provides five steps on how to apply for federal assistance (FYI: ignore homeowner and New Jersey specific info).
Connect with Local Chambers of Commerce
- Your local chamber is a great resource and conduit during a recovery process. Because chambers speak for busiesses, they can advocate for additional outside resources that the community might need. Chambers channel resources and funds that can be of great assistance to impacted businesses. They need to hear about your business’s needs.
- Many chambers have relationships or share space with Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). SBDCs offer free business counseling including guidance after disasters.
- The Disaster Help Desk is a resource available to your business. If this is the first time you are thinking about disaster recovery, reach out for help to ask the questions of what you need to think about, do first, who to call, things to consider, etc. Contact the National Disaster Help Desk at 1-888-MY BIZ HELP (1-888-692-4943) or visit www.facebook.com/usccfhelpdesk or https://twitter.com/USCCFhelpdesk.
- Local chambers have connections within the local community, in the region, and across the country. These connections can be especially useful in providing help after a disaster.
“Monitor progress on your program and find ways to improve it. Reinforce employees’ participation in, and responsibility for, the overall recovery effort.” -- The Hartford
- The business recovery process is immense, stressful, and labor intensive. When people are already busy and potentially burdened by recovery efforts, celebrating milestones may seem frivolous. But do not overlook the need to address employees’ mental health and to remind them that their hard work has purpose, progress is being made, and light exists at the end of the tunnel.
- By reopening your doors, it can encourage other businesses and organizations to recover faster, thereby helping the community as a whole.
- Recovery requires interconnectivity between public, private, non-profit, faith-based, and community organizations at all levels. Celebrate and promote recovery events that provide assistance to individuals, families, businesses, and other organizations in a “together we recover” type of approach. It is a great opportunity to keep the focus on recovery over the longer-term, bring resources to those who need it, and put your businesses in a position of information-sharing that will be remembered by your employees and the community for years.
- Celebrate your reopening and highlight your goods and services as an opportunity to market to potential new customers, especially those waiting on other businesses to reopen. Once you have these new customers, they will likely stay.
- Recovering from a disaster is hard work. Praise, recognize, and reward efforts throughout all levels of the business.
- Handling the recovery well and acknowledging employees’ roles increase company loyalty.
- Highlighting the re-openings of hospitals, schools, iconic community locations like restaurants considered “institutions”, civic spots, memorials, businesses or areas that have prevailed in spite of adverse odds, are all opportunities to tell the story of the community working together and building back better and stronger. This is a way to bring visitors into a recovering community.
- Your human resources department is typically the one that recognizes milestones within the company and can play an important role in recovery by being attentive to the needs of employees by celebrating recovery milestones. The events may be organized in a fun and inviting way and can incorporate employees with non-essential recovery roles so they can participate in the restoration of the business.
- Recognize that there may be employees who are still experiencing difficulties, a personal loss, or need help. You can use milestones to also highlight whichever areas still need assistance.
“Also, as the recovery continues, remember that many staff are either displaced themselves or are sharing their space with the staff who are displaced, making working conditions far less than ideal. Stress levels will be unusually high; therefore, setting a positive tone, recognizing staff accomplishments, and celebrating milestones are more important than ever.” -- Comprehensive Guide to Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery