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Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Katrina’

What’s The “Holistic Approach” to Disaster Recovery and Planning?

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
Four people bringing pieces of a puzzle together

A holistic approach brings comprehensive disaster planning information to the table.

What do we mean by a “holistic” approach to disaster recovery and planning? In broad terms, it simply means the properties of a system cannot be described by its separate parts—the system as a whole influences the parts.

With disaster recovery and planning, considering a disaster as a whole system promotes broader planning and better cooperation among different groups. For example, with flood planning, engineers could have procedures in place to divert water toward a historical or shopping district area instead of a parking lot or open area capable of more safely handling overflow. If the building flood planners fail to converse with other members of the city utilities, emergency responders, neighboring properties, etc, they might make plans that would cause more damage to surrounding assets and possibly their own property. A holistic approach brings more information to the table, allowing better planned prevention as well as recovery.

An example of the need for a broader approach can be seen in the aftermath of the recent Japan earthquakes. As the production capacity of many Japanese plants is rebuilt and comes back online, segments of the Japanese economy were captured by other countries following the disaster. A holistic approach would have demanded better integration between emergency management teams and economic development individuals, who could have worked together to focus efforts on top economic priorities. This would have kept needed resources in the area following the disaster.

For some areas of the world that don’t frequently experience disasters, complacency can prevent the formation of a holistic approach. Paradoxically, a major disaster can also slow down the development of holistic methods, as individual stakeholders often feel repeated disaster occurrences are less likely, despite the fact that this is not necessarily true.

Key benefits of the holistic approach:

  • Better communication is encouraged when different agencies or groups confront disasters together. Resources or labor can be pooled together avoiding costly duplications of efforts. If disaster recovery is too fragmented, then many cases of “left hand not talking to the right” can occur.
  • Major disasters don’t discriminate. They affect large swaths of individuals and businesses. A holistic approach encourages a true community response, where actions are taken by the community for the community, with less emphasis on special interest groups or people with hidden agendas. An example of this is the rebuilding efforts in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, where groups worked together to clean debris and save houses as part of a broader longer-term affordable housing plan.
  • Holistic approaches mean a country, state, or city is more resilient to the effects of disaster and able to quickly regain former capacities.
  • The holistic approach covers mental and emotional states instead of just the physical safety of disaster victims. Such focus allows individuals to quickly return to society, providing an economic benefit to their immediate area.

For disaster recovery and prevention, a holistic method means more than just cooperation. It’s also a way to get more out of the efforts of every group and individual, which is a stark example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Disaster in Japan: How You Can Help

Monday, March 21st, 2011
clock with "Time to Share"

There are lots of ways for you to help the people affected by the recent disaster in Japan.

The earthquake and ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan brought unimaginable destruction to all facets of the country. Calamities of this magnitude also show people’s ability to give and the global concern for those in trouble. For our part, we would like to provide information about how to make donations to help. We would like to encourage you to contribute to the Japanese relief efforts and also share some thoughts about the ways that technology and social media are changing communication and fundraising efforts following natural and manmade disasters.

While the donations have been pouring in, they still fall well below similar donation levels given for Haiti and Hurricane Katrina. A week after the devastating quake, donations reached $87 million for efforts in Japan, compared to $275 million in Haiti and $522 million for Hurricane Katrina. With millions of Japanese citizens are without power or ready-access to food, more donations are needed to provide just basic necessities.

Organizations such as Charity Navigator or GuideStar provide information about how individuals can give to the charity organizations that use donations most efficiently. These websites also detail those organizations that pool together donations to be used for disasters when needed. This is helpful since, in some past disasters, nonprofit groups end up with an overflow of funds that they are required to spend on specific relief efforts even if those monies might be better used elsewhere.

Easy ways to donate to reputable charitable organizations using the latest technology:

Be careful of scams! Unfortunately, some unscrupulous people try to exploit other’s suffering. So be very wary of replying to any incoming text messages that request credit card information or other financial information.

Technology in Action

In addition to enabling faster and easier donations, social media proved useful for rescue efforts and to quickly spread vital information.

  • While mobile phone lines were overloaded during and after the quake, sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Skype chat worked well and provided vital communication links.
  • A schoolteacher in England reported chatting with her young cousin in Japan after the quake via Facebook chat. The child couldn’t reach their parents a few miles away, but was able to communicate quickly with a relative on the other side of the world.
  • In the hours immediately following the tsunami and subsequent earthquakes, 50,000 people in Japan downloaded a Smartphone flashlight application, which they purportedly used to navigate through rubble.

Technology is opening new avenues for finding lost loved ones and learning more about the latest problems.

  • Google launched a Google Person Finder tool to locate people who are searching for loved ones. After the Red Cross’ Family Links site was overloaded, Google stepped in to help. Searchable in both English and Japanese, the site provides information for specific people including photographs and updates on their well being.
  • Twitter Hashtags (#) including #prayforjapan, #tsunami, #japan, and #textREDCROSS are providing a steady stream of information for victims and loved ones in real time.

As helpful as technology and mobile communication have become, it’s important to remember that these tools can be positive influences to help us quickly connect with people during a disaster as well as a potential tool for criminals to exploit. So be wary of posting too much information about your personal and professional activities online, or you risk alerting thieves when your home is vacant. This is just one example of how proper planning and careful attention to detail is crucial for safely managing situations when disasters strike.

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

 

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Time to Review Your Property Insurance Coverage

Monday, February 22nd, 2010
Make sure your insurance is sufficient to cover your commercial property.

Make sure your insurance is sufficient to cover your commercial property.

With the recent earthquake in Haiti and hurricane in New Orleans, people are keenly aware that disasters can and will happen. And when they hit, they can wreak havoc on residential and commercial property. But never fear. The best way to deal with an emergency is to prepare for it in advance.

So, in light of the Haitian earthquake and Hurricane Katrina, take time to review your disaster-related evacuation planning and tenant safety issues. And then, review and evaluate your insurance policy to make sure you have adequate coverage. Although people often groan about paying high insurance premiums, covering them beats the alternative of facing an uninsured disaster that could literally ruin your business as well as your reputation.

The primary type of insurance for commercial property owners is commercial property insurance which covers the physical structure from various types of natural or manmade disasters.  Here are some tips for choosing or renewing property insurance coverage:

  • Make sure your building is current with regard to all safety codes before you apply for new coverage or try to renew an existing policy. If the insurance agent who reviews your property finds evidence of safety violations, he or she might fail to recommend the property to underwriters.
  • Remember that insurance companies are not code enforcers. Their concern is for the building and the potential loss of value. Ensuring the safety of tenants is a shared responsibility between the building owner/manager, the tenant/employers and every individual person in the building. There is a proven correlation between individual training and preparedness and life safety.
  • Find out if the policy provides reimbursement for alternative work accommodations. If your building is severely damaged, would you be able to offer temporary facilities for displaced workers?  Remember that securing building permits for repairs can take weeks or months. So make sure that your insurance is sufficient to cover construction and code-approval time.
  • Carefully review whether the policy allows for “actual cash value” or “replacement value?” Actual cash value factors in depreciation of the insured object, while replacement value reimburses policy-holders for the current cost of replacing the lost or damaged item.
  • Watch out for “Exclusions,” which are big in the world of insurance. Check the policy carefully for anything that might not be covered. Are you in a flood plain? If so, make sure flood-related disasters are covered. Vandalism coverage should also be considered since manmade damage can lead to costly repairs. Some policies cover every type of disaster. In other cases, you might find it necessary to add a la carte coverage.
  • Look at what the policy covers beyond the building. Are furniture, equipment and electronics included? All of these items can be costly to replace.
  • Make sure you take time to read the “fine print” in your property insurance coverage. Proper coverage today can save your business tomorrow.
  • Consider other types of insurance such worker’s compensation, liability, and vehicle coverage.  Insurance is such a comprehensive subject that we’ll cover more about it in future blog posts. So be sure to check back in the weeks ahead.

For the latest emergency management training for property owners and facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.