Flood damage cost businesses $700 million in Washoe County alone with the financial impact across six Nevada counties totaling more than $1 billion, according to reports from the Truckee River Flood Project committee.
Floods, fires, earthquakes and any other natural catastrophe could decimate a business at any time. That’s where Prepare Washoe steps in — hopefully before disaster hits.
“We are a preparedness partnership committee for any level of professional in the private industry to learn about emergency preparedness,” said Christina Conti, a program assistant for Washoe County’s Emergency Management department.
The Prepare Washoe program is run by Washoe County and aims to help every type of business create its own emergency preparedness plan.
“The community always looks to the local businesses as an indicator as to if we have come out of a disaster,” Conti said. “The county’s rationale for the program and website was that if the businesses are able to come out sooner, the community will also recover sooner.”
An estimated 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety.
“An emergency for me may be a whole lot different than it would be for you in your industry,” Conti said of the program’s push for customization. “We are giving private industry the emergency preparedness tools to match up with their organizational needs.”
The help comes mostly in the form of templates, checklists and guidance provided on the Prepare Washoe website, www.readywashoe.com. The site, which is organized similarly to a family disaster planning site, offers everything from step-by-step instructions for making a plan to how-to guides to assembling emergency kits.
“Insurance, contracts, customer information are the things we need to protect at work just as at home it’s the photo albums and the vital documents,” Conti said. “The very first menu item (on the website) is about making a plan, assembling a kit and staying informed. That can fit for anything — personal life and professional life.”
In addition, Conti and her co-workers keep in close contact with organizations such as the National Weather Service.
“For example,” she said, “we got an e-mail that floods are imminent in certain areas (on July 16). We sent that out to businesses in that area through our listserv.”
In addition, businesses can register to be alerted by telephone for 13 different hazards affecting their specific neighborhood. To register, log on to www.washoecounty.us/em/alert.html.
Directions for creating an emergency preparedness and business continuity plan can be found at www.washoecounty.us/repository/files/34/Disaster_Planning.pdf.