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Building Entrepreneurial Communities

Bouncing Back From Disaster

Startling facts show that many local businesses and livelihoods will not recover from a catastrophe. It's not because they don't want to, it's because the task is huge. Planning to survive and being prepared go a long way towards improving the odds of re-opening and money flowing. Along with a written, recovery playbook, talk to family, insurance providers, first responders and employees about this serious topic. They all need to help plan, plus understand responsibilities and details.

Discuss your vulnerability to specific hazards. Look at impacts to owners, employees, facilities and operations. Start by asking "WHAT IF _____":


Flood-including burst pipes


Sewer backup


Extreme Temperatures (+/-)


Loss of key worker

Prolonged power outages caused by severe weather

Computer hacks/Crashes/Data breaches

Lost access to primary facilities

Document your facilities, property, assets and systems using photos, videos and floor plans. Know and communicate the location of utilities, shut-offs, shelters, records and hazardous materials. Identify vital records, assure their safety and their backup.

The American Red Cross Ready Rating™ System provides a number of excellent templates to make development of your own plan easier. You do not have to 're-invent the wheel'. Access forms such as: Emergency Contacts; Emergency Notification Procedures; Situation Assessments at

The Ready Rating System is one of several reputable and free formats to help with the all-important task of planning. Another source is In addition to being better prepared for coping with disaster, plans will be valued by your insurance providers, first responders and survivors.

In each business, there are relationships and dependencies… suppliers, customers, employees, families and so many more. If your business stops functioning, others experience problems too. In the operational side of things (office, shop, factory, store, etc.), if one step cannot be completed, the entire sequence of 'normal' is jeopardized. Payroll has been missed because one person, holding all the knowledge, couldn't do it.

Dependency mapping helps identify important sequences. Once identified, take steps to build options and reduce vulnerability. The Ready Rating System provides a guide for developing process recoveries. Combine this tool with a detailed and current contact list to be proactive- when time really counts. Add safe/retrievable data, duplicate keys, clear authority, alternate access and more to give someone a fighting chance.

Members of EDEN- The Extension Disaster Education Network will gladly share insights and information. As a delegate to this organization, I will be happy to forward inqueries to appropriate contacts. Within Illinois Extension, there are several points-of-contact. EDEN is made possible by USDA, NIFA, NOAA, Sea Grant and participating Extension Programs.