BATON ROUGE, La. (May 29, 2020) – Ahead of the official start of hurricane season on June 1, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today released recommendations to help businesses prepare for weather emergencies. BRAC strongly advises businesses of all sizes to begin immediate preparation. Preparedness resources may be found at brac.org/prepare.
“Two named storms have already appeared in the Atlantic, so it’s critical for every business to evaluate its disaster resilience plan,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of BRAC. “Moreover, a plan made last year may not be applicable to the COVID reality in which we find ourselves. The pandemic may have actually positioned a business to be better prepared for a weather event, but the two kinds are not the same thing, as we have seen. It’s important and timely now to make a plan if a company lacks one, or review existing plans afresh with the lessons of the last few months being added to the details.”
In the event that a hurricane or other major weather event impacts the 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:
- 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 emergency contact names, 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 displaced 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, physical plant or store is inaccessible,
- review business insurance options and ensure all relevant policies, such as business interruption coverage, are in place, premium payments are up-to-date, and all proper steps have been taken to ensure claims can be made in a timely manner if necessary,
- prepare for lengthy power interruptions during and after a disaster (i.e., arranging for alternate power sources, fuel supplies, etc.), and
- maintain and distribute to employees and partners the contact information for FEMA and SBA disaster assistance.
In addition to these suggestions, there are several resources available online to assist businesses with emergency preparations and response, some of which directly relate to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- CDC’s Preparing for Hurricanes During the COVID-19 Pandemic (https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/covid-19/prepare-for-hurricane.html)
- FEMA’s Preparing for Hurricane Season During the COVID-19 Pandemic (https://www.fema.gov/blog/2020-05-08/preparing-hurricane-season-during-covid-pandemic)
- FEMA’s Ready Business (www.ready.gov/business)
- State of Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) Get A Game Plan (www.getagameplan.org)
- Entergy Operation: Storm Ready (stormcenter.entergy.com/)
- Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster assistance loans (www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance or dial 1-800-659-2955)
- LSU Stephenson Disaster Management Institute (www.sdmi.lsu.edu)
- Capital Area Ready (www.capitalareaready.com)
- Red Stick Ready (www.redstickready.com)
- Red Stick 311 (311.brla.gov)
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 SBA and any assistance programs offered through Louisiana state government.
The Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center (LA BEOC) offers businesses the opportunity to make their goods or services available to those in need following a natural disaster. By registering with LA BEOC on their website (www.labeoc.org) and completing a company profile, businesses can indicate how they can be of assistance. The LA BEOC will connect registered businesses with state agencies, when needed. All businesses that may be able to provide assistance after a natural disaster are encouraged to register now.
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.
About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) leads economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area, working to grow jobs and wealth and to improve the business climate and competitiveness in the region. Today, BRAC investors include more than 1,500 small businesses, midsize firms, large industry and entrepreneurial startups, as well as individuals and organizations that support business and economic development. In this capacity, BRAC serves as the voice of the business community, providing knowledge, access, services and advocacy. More information is available at brac.org.
Morgan is the Marketing Manager for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. In her role, she manages writing organizational publications and materials, oversees BRAC’s social media and blog, and coordinates timelines for all internal marketing projects.