Editors note: With Hurricane Florence approaching the U.S. mainland, here's a post on what local chambers of commerce can do to prepare from Brooks Nelson with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center’s Disaster Preparedness, Relief, and Recovery program.
If you’re a chamber of commerce located in the southeast United States, there’s still time to prepare your community ahead of Hurricane Florence’s landfall this week. Below are seven steps you can take to prepare your organization, your members, and your community ahead of Hurricane Florence’s landfall.
1. Finalize your emergency contact list
During disasters, communication with employees, members, and community contacts are essential. Make sure you have the phone numbers, email addresses, or social media contact information for your key chamber contacts. Communicate with your employees about your plan for yourself personally and your chamber before and after the storm, and ensure they know how to get in contact with you.
2. Share preparedness resources with your members
Helping your members understand the practical steps they can take to prepare ahead of Hurricane Florence could drastically improve their chances of enduring the storm. The Chamber Foundation has resources for businesses that walk through how to prepare for a natural disaster.
3. Connect to local emergency management teams
As a chamber, you are the voice and advocate for businesses in your community. It is essential that your chamber play a role in the recovery process. If you’re not already connected, reach out to your community’s emergency management agencies. After the storm, liaise with these groups often and report status updates back to your members.
4. Back up your data off-site
Ensure there is an updated backup of all crucial data related to your chamber – located somewhere outside the building. This could either be on an external hard drive or through cloud storage. This will help ensure nothing is lost if there is damage to your business.
5. Encourage your employees to prepare
As you get yourself personally prepared for the disaster, make sure your employees know what steps they can take to prepare as well. This includes making sure they have their own family emergency plan and are stocked up on basic disaster supplies including food and water, a flashlight, batteries, chargers, cash, and first aid supplies.
6. Think through your communications strategy
If your community were to take a direct hit, would your chamber be ready to communicate on behalf of your members? Connect with the necessary staff and discuss roles ahead of the storm making landfall.
7. Secure facilities
If your chamber has a physical building, you’ll want to protect it similar to how you would your personal property. Consider your inventory, equipment, and technology, where it is located, and if it can be moved or sheltered.
After these first seven steps, check out our Resilience in a Box workbook. Developed in partnership with the UPS Foundation, Resilience in a Box walks you through how to create a disaster continuity plan.
Preparing now will help you recover later. The Chamber Foundation has resources for businesses of all sizes to prepare ahead of the storm. Our Disaster Help Desk for Business (1-888-MY-BIZ-HELP) can give your business guidance on how to prepare ahead of Hurricane Florence making landfall.