Everyone knows that families should have a plan in the event of a disaster, but a seminar held Thursday touted the benefits of having a disaster plan in place for businesses.
And the message was simple: Make a kit, have a plan, stay informed.
Law enforcement, local businesses and emergency services officials gathered at North Surry High School for the meeting, which featured information on how to best prepare in the event of a worst-case scenario.
“None of us are ready for a disaster,” said Betty Ann Collins, president of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, one of the sponsors of the event. “Everyone who isn’t here will wish they were. This is just awesome.”
From backing up critical data to having mock disaster drills, business owners were encouraged to think about what they would do in the event of a disaster like that faced in Oklahoma recently.
“Disasters can happen at any time, and what would you do if you watched your place of business leveled?” asked Ben Cooke of Cooke Rentals. “Who would you call?”
Which is why it is critical to have a plan of action in place, answered Margie Davis of the American Red Cross, who said her organization offers information to anyone who needs it.
“We are an organization that is committed to going out and talking to people about preparation for disasters,” she said. “We don’t want to do it through fear, but disasters can happen quickly and without warning. There are floods, fires, wind damage.”
It is imperative, she said, to think about how to respond and practice that response.
“It’s great to have a plan, but if you don’t practice it, it doesn’t do much good,” she said.
And businesses should secure important records and documents that can be critical to the recovery after a disaster.
Backing up data off site can make the recovery go much more smoothly, said Mark Spencer of CyberGear in Mount Airy.
Spencer said that while it’s fairly inexpensive to replace a hard drive, the data on it can be much more valuable.
“I have clients right here in town who have lost their hard drives, and it can cost thousands of dollars to try to recover the critical data they hold,” he said.
Cooke said organizations like emergency services, the Red Cross, community and religious organizations can help businesses recover on the local level.
“I’m not sure I’m as prepared as I should be,” he admitted. “But the key is to build the best plan you can and continue to improve on it over time. The result is never good when you don’t have a plan in place.”
It was a sentiment echoed by WXII 12 Chief Meteorologist Lanie Pope, who said the most important thing she does is inform the public about dangerous weather. But warnings don’t do much good if the public is unprepared.
“I can tell you all day and all night that a bad storm is coming, but if you don’t know what to do, I can’t save your life,” she said.
With a plan in place and an emergency kit at the ready, a little notice can make all the difference, Davis noted.
“Twenty minutes notice can give you a lot of time if you are prepared, but it’s not very long if you aren’t,” she said.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.