Friday, May 7, 2010

Are You Ready?

While Tennessee, Alabama and surrounding states were hit with floods last weekend, the Wizard was attending disaster response training classes in Florida. Everyone knows Florida is a perfect target for hurricanes, but other areas of the country have their share of disaster too. For those of you who think this article does not apply to you, do not dismiss this too soon. Even if you live in one of the very few areas that are not prone to disasters, one of your related businesses could be hit by a storm. Even if your area is usually safe, are your suppliers and customers located in areas prone to flooding, tornadoes, fires, tornadoes and other events? Need a special part for a machine that is down? Tough luck. Your supplier in Arkansas was hit by a tornado. Ready to ship a container of sporting equipment to your customer in Tennessee? Not today. Thanks to the floods, your customer’s store and warehouse were flooded. Think of your business and then think about how your business could be affected by disasters in other areas. Preparing for and surviving a disaster is everyone’s responsibility.

Many organizations implemented “business continuity” plans because of 9/11. After Hurricane Katrina, more organizations implemented some type of disaster response plans. Members of C-TPAT are likely to have some contingency plans. Does your organization have a plan? How will you and your organization respond to a disaster in your community?

Existing Plans
Some businesses already have disaster response plans. That’s great! Is everyone affected by the plan aware of his or her responsibilities and the resources available? Have you practiced your plan? Take time to review, update and practice your plan.

Consider this example from a company with a plan.

Anonymous Importers is located in Miami, Florida. The company purchased a $10 million dollar building to use for their headquarters. Hurricane shutters were made for the existing windows. The shutters arrived and were stored in the maintenance area. Late in August, a CAT 3 Hurricane warning was issued for the area, so the maintenance crew started to put up the shutters. Guess what? The shutters didn’t fit the windows. If the organization had practiced their disaster response plan, they would have known the hurricane shutters didn’t fit before the actual hurricane approached.

No Plan
Businesses should be aware of actions they can take to protect their facilities and employees. After taking measures to protect people, one of the primary objectives should be to ensure that the business could continue to function after a disaster has threatened the area. Without a complete plan to protect the business, a quick recovery from a disaster will be difficult. The current state of our economy makes these plans even more important.

To prepare for a potential disaster, organizations should:

· Create a disaster response and recovery plan that includes provisions for the disasters that could be encountered by your company.
· Identify and protect vital records and back up all key data.
· Protect electronic equipment and store back-up files in a safe place.
· Review the company's insurance policy and make sure it provides adequate coverage.
· Have cash and blank checks available in case extra money is needed after the storm.
· Establish a temporary location for business operations in case your facility is damaged.
· Train employees in the entire process, from pre-disaster preparation to post-disaster recovery procedures
Practice the plan.

Trade Compliance
How would disaster affect trade compliance? In the event of a disaster, it is important that international trade compliance departments have procedures in place to minimize loss and to provide for resumption of services as soon as possible. While trade compliance may not be critical to the immediate functions of the company as a whole, prolonged disruption of services could ultimately affect the end user of your products. Additionally, trade compliance is responsible for the safe storage of certain required government documentation. Destruction of this required documentation would require extensive manpower and financial resources to reconstruct. The international trade compliance department should:

· Provide a list of critical functions performed by the department.
· Create storage plans for procedure manuals, compliance records, entry files and other documentation that compliance departments must retain.
· Identify the impact of a disaster to other departments that the group works with.
· Create temporary operating procedures.
· Determine the order/priority of restoration necessary.
· Identify staffing requirements.
· Identify equipment, office supplies and other tools needed to complete work assignments such as the CBP Regulations, HTSUS, EAR, ITAR, file folders, computers, software and miscellaneous supplies.

Do your part to protect your company, your job and yourself in the event of a disaster. For additional information on how to prepare for disasters, please visit the following web sites.


State Emergency Management Links

Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

National Hurricane Survival Initiative

No comments: