Red Cross: Businesses At Risk

Apr 08, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Forty percent of small businesses damaged or destroyed during a major disaster
close permanently, according to the Disaster Relief organization’s web

According to the site, a cooperative effort between the American Red Cross,
CNN Interactive and IBM, many businesses are prepared for natural disasters
but not manmade ones. “Today’s climate of heightened terror alert levels and
the conflict in Iraq has prompted a new influx of questions concerning employee
safety and operational continuity.”

Peter Cann, director of emergency services for the Red Cross Westchester County
Chapter in White Plains, NY said, “Any emergency, from a residential fire to
a terrorist attack, can have a severe impact on local businesses. For example,
a fire in downtown Ossining, NY, affected six workplaces, three of which were
forced to shut down. On a larger scale, following the Oklahoma City bombing
in April, 1995, police closed multiple blocks around the disaster site for weeks,
preventing many businesses from accessing their offices. At least 950 companies
never reopened.”

Last month, the Red Cross launched its Together We Prepare campaign
to help businesses and others mitigate the impact of disasters. Details of the
program are available from 960 local chapters throughout the US.

Moderator’s Comment: Do retailers need to have a formal
response system in place to deal with natural and manmade disasters? Do any
of the various industry associations/organizations have programs set up to help
retailers prepare for and deal with disaster situations?

No one ever thinks disasters will happen to them. This
remains the common mindset even here in the New York area despite the harsh
lessons learned on September 11. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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