POSTED: Thursday, May 31, 2012 - 12:15pm
UPDATED: Thursday, May 31, 2012 - 12:19pm
Baton Rouge, La — The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) released today its annual list of recommendations to help businesses prepare for the effects of hurricanes and tropical storms. BRAC strongly advises businesses of all sizes to start immediate preparation. BRAC also announced that it will make available a critical business information section on its website should any large-scale damage occur in south Louisiana.
“Making thorough preparations in order to ensure the safety and security of all of our businesses, their employees, and capital assets in the event of a hasty or immediate threat is crucial as hurricane season approaches,” stated Adam Knapp, President and CEO of BRAC. “The sustainability of operations during a natural disaster should be the primary goal of all Baton Rouge area companies, not only for their own sake, but to maintain the region’s economic stability as well.”
In the event that a hurricane impacts the greater Baton Rouge area, businesses should ensure the security of their people, as well as information, equipment, and resources essential to their operations and customers. They should also be prepared with the correct information for handling post-event recovery efforts.
BRAC recommends that businesses should:
• have an evacuation plan that provides for everyone on the premises to leave the workplace safely and quickly
• maintain a list and contact information for all employees and mission-critical business partners (including work and cell phones, work and/or personal email addresses, PIN numbers, etc); the list should include employees, customers, vendors, bankers, attorneys, and insurance agents
• establish a means of and plan for contacting employees who have been displaced from their homes by the disaster
• make clear arrangements for all staff to be able to contact the business or locate information about the business if it is temporarily closed or forced from its normal location
• establish procedures for succession of management
• identify operations critical to the company's survival and recovery
• decide which personnel and what records, procedures, and equipment are necessary to keep the business operating
• preserve vital business records, financial data, accounting records, personnel information, inventory information, etc.
• back up computerized records daily and store the backups, along with other vital records, at an off-site location (consider the use of a remote data center, if possible)
• plan how to continue operating if the building, plant, or store is not accessible
• prepare for lengthy power interruptions during and after a disaster (i.e., arranging for alternate power sources, fuel supplies, etc.)
• maintain and distribute to employees and partners the contact information for FEMA and SBA disaster assistance.
In addition to these suggestions, there are several online resources available to assist businesses with their hurricane planning and disaster response:
• State of Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) Get A Game Plan (www.getagameplan.org )
• Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Ready Business (www.ready.gov/business )
• Entergy Operation: Storm Ready (www.entergy.com )
• Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster assistance loans (www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance  or dial 1-800-659-2955)
In the event of tropical storm formation, the NOAA National Hurricane Center (www.nhc.noaa.gov ) will have the latest tracking information, watches, warnings, and alerts available online. Should a federal emergency be declared resulting from a hurricane in our area, BRAC will issue specific contact information and physical locations for obtaining business disaster loans available through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and any assistance programs offered through Louisiana state government.
BRAC maintains a disaster preparation and response partnership with all regional economic development organizations and chambers of commerce in Louisiana, as well as state agencies. If necessary, BRAC will publish a business information section on its website in order to assist companies if severe damage were to occur. As part of the material, BRAC will include such things as important contact information, assistance and recovery updates, office space availability, and temporary housing options. It will also provide BRAC-prepared research detailing the possible impact the storm may have on the local, regional, and/or state economy. The information would be available at www.brac.org/recovery .