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This Site First Published December 12, 2000

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During Hurricane Floyd, our nearly 12 year old technology consulting practice was flooded out.

Commercial grade water pumps and wet vacs worked as long as the power held. But once the electricity went dead, it was as if someone decided to turn the office into a swimming pool.

No one expected this; the building sat high up on a hill, a seemingly ideal spot if one wanted to avoid suffering through a flood. But in this case, because property owners uphill regraded their site without regard for storm runoff, the torrential rain that fell on higher ground flowed past our building on its way down to lower elevation. This left us sitting in the middle of a river. The water seeped down along the foundation and came into the office through the walls and floor; we could watch the water flowing in, but could do nothing to stop it. And even though the regrading set the stage for flooding, the property owners who had done the work and the local building officials claimed "Act of God" and took no responsibility.

Unfortunately, for all the money we had invested in business insurances, we didn't have flood insurance. Even if we had demanded it, by law our insurance agent couldn't have sold it to us — the building wasn't in a flood area.

So much for those things that "could never happen." And Lesson One in the danger of a false sense of security.

Our equipment loss was minimal. With the pumps and wet vacs, we had enough time to grab computers, files, books, and smaller items and get them up to higher ground. But the Business Interruption following Hurricane Floyd was another story.

After nearly 12 years as a technology consultant and contractor to some of the world's finest organizations, we suddenly had the rug pulled out from under us. And while we worked to deal with the flood damage, we had to forge ahead. We tried to operate as if nothing had happened, but we lost all of the deals that we had in negotiation at the time of Hurricane Floyd, and we had an impossibly-difficult time delivering on the work we were already-engaged to complete. Eventually it all caught up with us. The Business Interruption coupled with the realities of life in a fiercely competitive and fast-moving industry brought us very close to losing everything we had worked so hard to build.

But this story has a happy ending.

Our experience with Hurricane Floyd taught us a tremendous amount about safety planning, risk management, business continuity, community planning, building code enforcement, disaster response, disaster recovery, and so much more, and we were inspired to put this knowledge to good use. During the difficult months that followed Hurricane Floyd, we sought out ways in which our technical skills and hardwon insights could contribute to the safety and wellbeing of others who may suffer — or who already have suffered — from a disaster.

And that was the birth of PrepareRespondRecover.com.

Fast Facts:
Small Business and Natural Disaster:

Did you know that the federal government defines "small business" as those employing 500 or fewer employees? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, "40% of small businesses that experience a disaster or emergency do not recover."

Source: FEMA

"The survey data indicate that disasters have disparate rather than uniform effects on businesses. Consistent with what other researchers have argued ... small businesses are especially vulnerable to disaster-related losses and disruption."

Source: University of Delaware Disaster Research Center


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No material may be reprinted, republished or redistributed without prior written authorization of PrepareRespondRecover.com.

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