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Why a DRP Should be a Top Priority for 2018

The High Cost of “Disaster Fatigue” 
It’s completely understandable, if you’re suffering from disaster fatigue as 2017 winds down. There were times this year when there were a dizzying number of near-simultaneous disasters happening around the country. In fact, as of October the U.S. had already seen 15 $1billion+ loss events.1 And the severe weather wasn’t isolated to just a couple or few parts of the country—it battered areas across the Midwest from California to the Northeast and along much of the Gulf coast.

Whether you were lucky enough to be in an area that wasn’t hit, or your area was hit hard for the first time in a long time, it’s never been more important to make sure your business is prepared for disasters. This post explores why, along with the most important things to consider, as the new year approaches.

The 2017 Wakeup Call
In a year filled with severe storms, wildfires and frequent outbreaks of “crazy” weather, hurricanes are the biggest story.

Prior to this year, the U.S. had been enjoying an extended streak of good luck when it came to hurricanes. After all, a full-fledged hurricane hadn’t hit the U.S. mainland since the record-breaking 2005 season, which saw six hurricanes make landfall.2 In 2017, however, hurricanes returned with a vengeance. As of publication, the U.S. has been hit by three hurricanes, including Harvey, Irma and Maria, all of which caused widespread damage. Hurricane Harvey alone is estimated to have caused an estimated $180 billion in damages, making it one of the most costly natural disasters in U.S. history.3 And the total cost for all three storms is well north of $300 billion.

Hurricanes aside, there were plenty of other notable disasters in 2017 that significantly impacted communities throughout the country. Wildfires scorched most of the western U.S. in the summer and fall, with the California wildfires destroying nearly thousands of homes and buildings causing an estimated $3 billion in insured losses.4 

Even hail was especially damaging in 2017, with Denver being hit with the most expensive storm in Colorado history, which caused insured losses of more than $1.5 billion.5 Moreover, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms caused widespread damages and power outages throughout much of the year. And that’s just a quick summary of a few of the year’s bigger events.

Making it Through Difficult Circumstances
One of the stark facts about 2017 is that the cascade of disasters started to sap response and recovery resources. Just consider the headlines about FEMA potentially running out of cash before the end of the year. Or stories about how firefighters were stretched thin during this year’s wildfire season, given the huge number of fires that were burning simultaneously across the country.

And these examples are only the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to the layers of challenges that communities and businesses have to navigate during a disaster. If your business doesn’t have a contingency plan or disaster response plan (DRP), you may not have the emergency supplies you need in place before a disaster hits, and it’s tough to round them up at the last minute when everybody else is looking for the same thing (assuming you have enough warning of what’s to come). What’s more, a quick post-disaster recovery hinges on relationships and plans you’ve built prior to a big event. If you don’t have a plan and a relationship with a disaster restoration provider, you’ll be competing with hundreds or thousands of others for the help of whatever providers still have capacity to help. And when you’re racing against time, it can be much more difficult to find reliable and trustworthy providers.

It’s also vital to remember that even if your business is located in an area where disasters rarely happen, you’re not necessarily in the clear. For example, what would it mean to your business if a key client or supplier were hit by a natural disaster? If you don’t have a contingency plan in place, a disaster somewhere else can still mean tough times for your business.

In 2018, Make Your DRP a Top Priority
Although it’s impossible to predict when and where disasters will hit in 2018, it’s a safe bet that severe weather trends will continue in many parts of the country. That’s why creating a disaster recovery plan (or updating your plan if you already have one) should be a top priority for 2018. After all, a DRP is critical to ensuring people know what to do when a disaster strikes, which can help:
  • Save lives and reduce potential injuries
  • Mitigate damages to your building(s)
  • Speed recovery efforts once the disaster is over
If you don’t have a DRP in place, we’ve created a helpful template to get you started called our Jump Start Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP), which provides a template for building out a plan. If you have a DRP in place, be sure to take some time to make sure that plans, procedures, supplier/vendor and employee contact information is still up to date. As you go through the process, if you have questions about anything, your team at Interstate is standing by.

Additional Resources:
Supply Chain Disaster Planning: Mapping Risk and Building in Redundancy
Supply Chain Disruptions: Why You Need to Be Ready
Disaster Recovery Plan 

Sources:
1 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Table of Events, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, October 2017.
2 2005’s Record-Breaking Hurricane Season: By the Numbers, The Weather Channel, June 2015.
3 Hurricane Harvey Facts, Damage and Costs, The Balance, September 30, 2017.
4 Claims losses from California's wildfires top $3 billion; state says some insurers may exit, CNBC, October 2017.
5 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Table of Events, NOAA, November 2017.  

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