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Natural Disasters And Their Indirect Impact on Small Businesses

Late Sunday night Houston and its surrounding suburbs have been getting hit hard by rain and it is not looking like it wants to let up.  There are people in some areas who have reported over 20 inches!  4 people have died due to this disaster and there have been many water rescues and evacuations that had to take place (ABC13 Eyewitness News, http://abc13.com/weather/overflowing-bayous-force-residents-from-homes/39346/) .  This is not something to take lightly and everyone has thoughts, prayers and love going out to Houston.

http://abc13.com/video/embed/?pid=1296428

I am by no means trying to take away from the severity of this situation by writing this article.  I have close family-friends in the Houston area and I understand at this time the most important thing to do is to support them and pray for their safety and health.  However, I am noticing how negatively the business I work for is indirectly impacted by this natural disaster.

We have 3 groups from the Houston area scheduled to visit us for multiple days this week.  2 of the 3 groups have cancelled the trip.  Since this has happened I have observed that we have a possible loss of $20,000+, 11 staff members with no tasks for the week and a drastic drop in staff morale.  This is not the end of the world in the whole grand scheme of things.  It does make me recognize the indirect effects of natural disasters.  They are there and it’s something you never really hear anyone talk about since the direct impact (rightfully so) overshadows everything else.

Prior to 1999 I noticed that not much research was done on natural disasters and their indirect impact on businesses.  Post 1999 you can find several blog posts and business articles on the impact.  The overwhelming lesson that I learned from skimming all these posts was that most businesses do not have natural disaster plans.  It appears that businesses like to ignore the idea that a natural disaster could indeed impact their clients, staff and revenue.  Nick Statt from ReadWrite wrote a great infographic article on this in 2013, “Small Businesses and the Impact of Natural Disasters” (2013).  My company may not be in the direct pathway of a natural disaster, but 145 of our customers this week were. Luckily, they are all okay and safe.  When it comes to keeping the business safe though, it is vital for companies to see the whole picture, think ahead and be prepared.

Statt, Nick, ReadWrite, “Small Businesses and the Impact of Natural Disasters”, http://readwrite.com/2013/02/22/the-severe-impact-natural-disasters-can-have-on-small-businesses-infographic/, 2013

ABC13 Eye Witness News, “Overflowing Bayous Continue to Force Residents from their Homes”, http://abc13.com/weather/overflowing-bayous-force-residents-from-homes/39346/, April 19 2016

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