Williams Scotsman

Rebuilding Your Business: Disaster Planning and Recovery

Destruction caused by humans can be just as damaging to your business as any natural disaster. According to the Department of Homeland Security, 40 percent of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen. Despite this high percentage, nearly two-thirds of the respondents to an Ad Council survey reported that they do not have an emergency plan in place. 

That’s why it is so critical to consider ways to effectively protect your business from any disaster, whether manmade or natural, by having a disaster solution in place. This includes securing business records and inventory, anchoring large equipment and furniture and installing a generator for emergency power. Modular space can also prove to be a lifesaver when any calamity strikes. Because it can be quickly procured, modular space provides a reliable modular office solution for relief efforts, temporary shelter or during rebuilding when existing offices, schools or other facilities are damaged or destroyed.

A case in point: In the past year, there have been several cases of civil unrest across the US. When the highly charged atmosphere surrounding the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody in Baltimore culminated in city-wide protests just this past spring, major property devastation ensued. Several convenience stores and pharmacies were targeted, and one Rite Aid near the city center had to be shut down because of the extensive damage it sustained.

During the aftermath, the citizens of Baltimore sought to re-establish a sense of normalcy. Access to medication and food needed to be restored as quickly as possible. Located nearby in the in Fell’s Point neighborhood of Baltimore, WillScot offered a solution that met the urgent timeline.

Within five days, the 68’ x 24’ temporary store was delivered and installed in the store’s parking lot. The temporary pharmacy was stocked and open for business within three weeks of the devastating loss. WillScot’s modular solution helped Rite Aid continue to deliver critical health and wellness services to their customers and the local community. Customers were able to get prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and food for themselves and their families. WillScot was one of several businesses to help rebuild the areas of Baltimore that were affected. 

When the store re-opened on October 20, the Rite Aid Executive Vice President of Operations, Bryan Everett, said: “Re-opening and re-building at 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard was a priority for our company, as we know local community residents depend on Rite Aid for both their health and everyday needs. Thanks to the efforts of our many associates, our builders and city, state and federal officials over the past five months, we are here today. We look forward to welcoming back our customers and delivering on our mission of improving the health and wellness of Baltimore.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has developed a series of mitigation planning guides to assist states and communities in enhancing their hazard mitigation planning capabilities. Many of the guidelines they provide can be used by businesses seeking to plan ahead for potential disasters. Here is a summary of the tips:

PHASE ONE: Organize resources. Assess community support by informing the public and promoting the benefits of disaster planning. Then, build a planning team. Create an internal communications plan for your team and an external communications plan for the authorities and the media in order to exchange information quickly and concisely. 

PHASE TWO: Assess risks. Identify the hazards facing your business and community and estimate potential losses. Different hazards pose varying threats and may need to be handled by specific experts such as chemical engineers or other proper authorities. 

PHASE THREE: Develop a mitigation plan. Mitigation plans may differ depending on the type of hazard that you are facing. The plan should strive to protect lives and property, reduce the costs of disaster response and minimize disruption to the community or state following a disaster. 

PHASE FOUR: Implement the plan and monitor progress. Once the plan has been developed, document and implement the strategy. Make sure that your planning team maintains the security of any information that pertains to vulnerabilities, security measures and response plans. 

Disaster recovery plans play a significant role in ensuring that businesses stay open after disasters. For more information on how to develop one for your business, visit www.fema.gov.

Learn more about the modular solution we deployed for Rite Aid and read the case study here and download the case study.

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