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Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead – But You Can

Written by Tammy Sullivan, Senior Compliance Specialist & Project Manager, Client Support

Like any family, we share stories as we get together for special occasions. One of my favorites happened when we visited my grandmother. With five siblings, two parents, and my grandmother, there were eight of us, which is exactly what our extended station wagon held, thanks to those seats in the way back. 

During this visit to her house, we decided to check out the local zoo. After we all loaded into the station wagon, my mother asked, “Is everyone here?” And, of course we all answered, “YES!” However, as we pulled away, my brother, who was 4 at the time, was standing in my grandmother’s door yelling “ME TOO, ME TOO!”  After this happened, my mother realized she needed a better system for taking a head count. Sometimes experience is the best teacher, but you also can use it to plan ahead.

Recently, just before Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas, one of our bank locations experienced two weather-related flooding incidents during which employees had trouble accessing the building and the building lost power for several hours. As a financial services company, we are required to have a crisis plan in place, and these two situations, while stressful, gave us the chance to use and refine our plan even more.

Now is the time, against a backdrop of heart-breaking stories of loss in the Texas flooding, to examine your emergency plans for your business, your home, and your family. Whether you are at work or home, you can do some things now to prepare for a crisis. When developing a plan for your home and your business, paying particular attention to these six items:

  1. Make an emergency plan. Visit ready.gov/make-a-plan and see what you can implement. Everyone’s situation is different, so it is likely you’ll need to tailor your plan to your needs. Do you have pets, small children, elderly relatives with health issues, etc? Do you have supplies ready like food, water, medications, batteries, clothes, blankets, and personal hygiene items?  Is there a relative you can rely on to notify other family members quickly, without tying up communication lines?
  2. Sign up for alerts and warnings through your phone and other mobile devices; check the weather daily or weekly for potential hazards or travel conditions in your area through your TV stations, radio stations, or ready.gov/alerts.
  3. Identify an evacuation plan outside of your house or town. Practice this plan in the day, at night, and in different seasons, until everyone is comfortable. Do you keep gas in the car and grill? Do you keep cash and identification on hand?
  4. Where do you go? And what do you need to take with you immediately? Are important documents easily accessible?
  5. Check your insurance coverage to ensure your property is covered. Do you qualify for flood insurance? Visit http://www.floodsmart.gov/ to find out if you can qualify.
  6. Plan financially for the possibility of disaster. Visit https://www.ready.gov/financial-preparedness for ideas.

Do you have an emergency plan for your home and your business? Have you had to follow it? What parts were most crucial and what did you change?

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