Back to Business: Planning for Disasters

>>Beaumont is a mid-sized
city, real easy to get around. And it’s a good place to live. Munro Dry Cleaning Company
was founded in 1928 by my great-grandfather. And I am third generation and I presently have been working down here for 38 years. Beaumont, only being 17 miles
from the coast, we’re going to get some storms through
here from time to time, and we’ve had some dandies.>>All right, let’s go back
out to Beaumont once again.>>Without a doubt, Hurricane
Rita making itself present, and a dangerous
situation here. (music)>>When Rita came along,
we were all told to get out of here, and it was the
first hurricane that I have evacuated for.>>Hurricanes impact
the whole state. A real example in Ike as
well as in Hurricane Rita. There was a tremendous loss of
electricity in the East Texas area from Nacogdoches, Lufkin,
all the way up through Tyler. The hurricanes actually
impacted those other communities that were
miles and miles away. (music)>>Thank you for
calling Munro’s. This is Louella,
can I help you? I’ve lived in Beaumont
most all my life. And I’ve worked for Munro’s Dry
Cleaners for about nine years. And when the storms came in,
we all got evacuated.>>It’s really important that
employees have their own preparedness plan in place. That they’ve done really three
basic things, that they follow the instructions of local
authorities in the midst of a disaster, that they
have a plan at home. And then also to have all
those really basic things in a kit that you have at home,
and that you have kind of a condensed version of that
kit in your vehicle as well.>>I was worried during that
time, “Is the storm going to catch us on the road?” You know, because this
storm’s moving in the coast and we’re stopped for hours,
and hours, and hours. I realized how hard it was
going to hit Beaumont and all of us down here. Then I was worried. You know, “What’s going
to happen to my store? What’s going to
happen to my company? Am I going to have a
job when I get back?” I have four kids, so even
if it is a hurricane, if you’re not making any money,
then you can’t feed your family. Thank you. You have a good day.>>You too. Bye-bye.>>When Rita came, we did
not come back for a week. There was no service. Not enough police department. The public water supply
was contaminated. There was no electricity.>>Every business should
have a disaster plan for the continuity of their own
business as well as the employees that work
within that business.>>There are a lot of things
that business depends on day to day that may or may not
be available once a disaster occurs. How will they pay their bills? How will employees
get to and from work? What if there’s a
high absentee rate, how will they handle that? How do they get
stock/inventory re-supplied whether it’s food or other
goods that they sell?>>During Rita, our plan was: we played it by the
seat of our pants.>>If you look back at
history, and you look at the businesses that
don’t have any plans. Those businesses, or the vast
majority of them, if there’s a major disaster in their
community, they won’t survive.>>When we come back in, you
could see debris everywhere, and power lines were down,
but I kept in touch with my supervisor and told
her I was back. The woman at the time,
she was a wheel-and-deal kind of person, you know. She says, “Okay, we’re
washing clothes for the utility workers.” You know, “If you want,
come on down.”>>Slowly but surely, business
was coming back, and we made some real good improvements. You cannot afford
not to be prepared. (music) When Ike came along,
we had a plan.>>It’s so much more than
having offsite backup of data for your business. There are a variety of other
things that you need to include in that. How to communicate with
employees and how to coordinate evacuation, the
steps that you need to go through to harden your facility
if there’s a storm coming. The steps you need to go
through to get your business back on its feet once
the disaster has passed.>>When there’s an evacuation
called, we have a plan. The supervisors start coming
out to the stores and we each have our own materials
to cover our windows. The maintenance guys, they
immediately start boarding up the stores. And you give them your contact
numbers, and say, “This is where I’m headed.”>>In Ike, we had everybody’s
phone number, and they touched base with us every 24 hours
with their supervisors. And everybody has a duty. And, for instance, one guy’s
duty is to make sure that everybody has a car where
they can get back in town. Another person’s duty is to
have blow-up beds and sheets so that we can sleep
about 20 people down here. Another person’s duty,
the maintenance side, is to make sure the
generator runs out here. And the cooks who make sure
that we have drinks and food for everybody around here.>>We’ve learned from the past
hurricanes how to prepare for a hurricane. We got water. We got Cokes. We got food. I got gumbo. I got about 8 gallons
of gumbo in there.>>During Ike, we fed
all of our people. We fed the police department. We had the mayor stop by one
time and eat, just trying to get life back to normal for
as many people as possible.>>The community is a
group of businesses. When businesses are open,
it’s much easier to get back into some set of normalcy.>>After Hurricane Ike, I went
to work within two days, just long enough to get my house
in order, and then I was back.>>I think the better you
prepare, the easier it is to recover. All in all, recovery is built
on individual preparedness, one person,
one family at a time.>>I think Munro’s Dry
Cleaning was prepared, and I think if they hadn’t been
on their feet and been ready, I would have had
nowhere to work.>>A really important
component of the recovery phase is getting business and
the economy back on its feet. If you don’t have people back
to work, you can’t really restore all the essential
services and activities of the community.>>You know, everything
centers around business picking up and going. The paychecks, the restaurants,
everybody’s got to have people back in order to get the
city up and functioning the way it should. You can sleep better at night
when they tell you there’s a storm in the Gulf when
you’re ready to go. If we had a storm tomorrow,
we know what we would do.>>You just saw how businesses
that have a plan in place can weather the crisis and
recover more quickly. Whether it’s a hurricane,
flood, tornado or man-made disaster, individuals and
businesses must be ready to respond and recover from
a major catastrophe. That’s why it’s important to
have a plan, to have essential items needed to live through
a disaster and to know how you’ll get credible information
during a crisis. Make a plan at You can also contact emergency
management organizations to find out more about the plans
available in your area. Your community’s
recovery depends upon it.

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One thought on “Back to Business: Planning for Disasters

  1. Just saw this video. Thanks for sharing this case study. It is a great overview of why businesses need to be prepared for a disaster, and why communities need to help prepare them if they want to remain viable places to live and work. #disasterguides #masteryourdisaster

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