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Disaster Planning

After the Disaster – What Should I Do Now?

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Information to Help Small Business Owners Make Post-Disaster Business Decisions

By Daniel J. Alesch, James N. Holly, Elliot Mittler, and Robert Nagy

Business Survival is not Assured by Reopening the Doors

During the PERI-funded research project, we worked with more than 120 small business owners and managers of not-for-profit organizations all across the county to understand what happens to them following various natural disasters. We’ve talked with some a few months after the disaster, with some as many as seven years after the event, and, with still others, every year for five years after the disaster.

We’ve reached several important conclusions that should weigh heavily on any business owner’s decisions about what to do with his or her business in the aftermath of a major disaster:

  1. We have concluded that disaster events cause problems for businesses unrelated to the amount of direct damage they sustain for the event and from related events, like fire following an earthquake.
  2. Second, we found that, unless the business owner makes good decisions about recovery, the largest losses to the business come in the years after disaster and not from the direct damage of the disaster itself.
  3. Third, we found that , following any large scale disaster in a community, things never get “back to normal.” The community almost always changes permanently.

To read the full article, download the PDF.