When natural disaster disrupts business
Business owners prepare for all kinds of problems. A natural disaster that disrupts your business is one you don’t always think of. But they do happen. And when they do they can be quite devastating. Natural disasters include wildfires, floods, tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, blizzards or volcanoes.
It happens quickly
Natural disasters can disrupt a business and leave a business owner in a state of shock because they happen so quickly.
Many businesses hit by natural disaster never reopen
A large business may have the cash to weather a storm (no pun intended), but small businesses are usually crushed when their livelihood is suddenly pulled out from under them. The Dept. of Labor estimates that around 40% of businesses hit by a natural disaster will never reopen.
Capital becomes a problem when there’s no income coming in, but things have to be fixed. Limited capital means less money for daily operating expenses.
Disrupted supply chains
Disrupted supply chains affect a business. Bridges can collapse, roads become impassable, and airports can close down. Cell towers and power stations can also be down, which affects communication. Damaged equipment and buildings also cause problems.
Natural disaster business stories
On May 22, 2011 disaster struck Joplin, MO. Nate Stokes, Visiting Angels franchise owner could never have imagined how much his business and livelihood would be disrupted. The tornado destroyed his cars and office. Several of his employees either had to quit or weren’t able to work. And many of his clients lost their homes.
Between his local church and Visiting Angels he was able to have an office to work out of and a car to drive. But the disruption took quite a while to turn itself around. Within about a year he was back to his pre-disaster business.
It was Hurricane Sandy that wreaked havoc on Madelaine Chocolates, a Rockaway Beach favorite. It took CEO Jorge Farber over five weeks just to be able to get in and access the damage. All of his equipment was four feet under water. The disaster happened right before their peak season and destroyed their seasonal inventory. A little over a year later he was able to get almost half of his employees back, but the recovery was painfully slow.
Rhonda Rees tells her story of the Woolsey fire:
Since my car was in the shop, I phoned a neighbor and took what I could. This amounted to a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, and a few important papers. That’s all. I honestly expected to return to my home within days.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead my house/office along with 110 others burned to the ground. I lost everything. This included my office equipment and supplies, precious family heirlooms, photos, dishes, collectibles and other things. The good news is all the residents, elderly, children, families and pets made it out of the mobile home park safely.
Half of the homes in our park are okay, although some have suffered fire damage, and our lake is wrecked with dying fish. The place was also contaminated for awhile.
I have been in charge of my firm for many years, so naturally when this disaster struck — and I lost everything, I’ve had to be really creative. I resumed working, and had been doing so from 20 (hotels and people’s homes) before I finally moved into my new office/home.
Now I have a very thriving business. More work than I know what to do with.
Rhonda Rees – Award-winning public relations expert, author, speaker and advocate
If you live in a disaster-prone area you should already have a disaster plan in place. But natural disasters could happen anywhere. Even if you don’t live in CA, which is often hit with earthquakes and wildfires, or in Tornado Alley, or in hurricane zones, you still need to prepare for floods, fires, draughts, or anything else Mother Nature may throw at you.