FEMA, Red Cross Lend Support

Four of 10 businesses hit by major storms never reopen; National Preparedness Month aims to fix that

Traci Carneal, Freelance writer


Forty percent of businesses without an emergency plan in place do not reopen after a major incident, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). And because September is National Preparedness Month, FEMA is in overdrive encouraging residents, organizations and businesses to get prepared for severe weather.

FEMA indicates that the United States can face a number of weather-related challenges this time of year, such as wildfires, tropical storms to hurricanes. The administration offers this guidance for each circumstance:

  • Wildfires: InciWeb is a great source for the latest updates on wildfires happening across the United States. Interagency partners provide their updates on this site, so it’s a great source for the latest on-the-ground information. For wildfire safety tips, visit www.Ready.gov/wildfires.
  • Tropical storms and hurricanes: While there are no tropical storms or hurricanes threatening the United States or our territories right now, the National Hurricane Center website and mobile site are worth bookmarking on your computer and phone. For what to do before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane, visit Ready.gov/hurricanes.
  • For severe storms and other weather: Visit the National Weather Service website or mobile site for the latest on severe weather advisories, watches or warnings. Ready.gov/severe-weather has details for staying safe, so check it out before severe weather threatens.

FEMA encourages businesses and their communities to earn the official StormReady designation from the National Weather Service. Specific criteria include, but aren’t limited to, developing a hazardous weather plan to include ice storms, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods; operating a 24-hour watch center to monitor local weather conditions; having multiple ways to receive severe weather watches and warnings and alert your local FEMA team; and promoting severe weather readiness through a variety of training and outreach programs for our employees and partner agencies.

The American Red Cross has launched an emergency preparedness program to help businesses and organizations get better prepared for emergencies. When a company joins the Red Cross Ready Rating program, it gains access to an assessment tool and program guide that “make emergency preparedness measurable and visible, bringing concrete elements to an expansive framework.” All Ready Rating program steps and recommendations are grounded in scientific research, best practices and/or expert opinion from respected professionals representing multiple disciplines and perspectives, according to the organization.

Here are some guides for developing an Emergency Response Plan, a Business Continuity Plan. To find out your level of preparedness, go to http://readyrating.org/ to take a free online business preparedness assessment.

Click here for FEMA information on getting your business prepared for a disaster, and to access free tools and resources for private-sector entities, or tap into the American Red Cross’ highly detailed Resource Center. To reach your regional FEMA private-sector liaison, reach out to [email protected].

There’s an App for That!

FEMA’s app for phones and tablets has been updated recently to incorporate several new features and improvements, especially Disaster Reporter, which allows people to upload a photo of what they’re seeing during or after a disaster and submit it to a public map.

The updated FEMA app is available for Android and Apple devices; the updated Blackberry version is under development. To download the app: http://www.fema.gov/smartphone-app.