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Nearly every region of the United State can be faced with some form of natural disaster with a magnitude great enough to substantially impact our lives in such a way that requires the use of survival protocols. Floods, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, tornados, snowstorms…they can all threaten personal and business survival.
Being on the front line of the first few homes lost in the Red River Valley Flood 2009, it was clear that complacency became a comfortable friend that turned on many since the last major flood of 1997 which was termed the flood of the century or a 500-year flood. Everyone knew this could happen again but somehow people convinced themselves that it wouldn’t happen again during their lifetimes.
The “never gonna happen” ate a healthy dose of “reality pie” as the US Coast Guard airboats skimmed across the ND landscape just outside my living room window. The surreal nature of changing circumstances charged with mass hysteria set many on an adrenaline-induced state of alert accompanied by an almost comical “dear in headlights” expression. Two lazy rivers that normally exist one mile to the east and one mile to the west of my home approached with reckless aggression stopped only by a second punch from mother nature with a 7-inch snowfall and freezing temps in the teens. Of course, mother nature decided that an additional kick to the ribs when we were down with an additional 10-15 inches on top of 7 inches and record flood levels would be a great test of North Dakotan spirit and resolve.
As my community looks to pull itself together, emergency meetings have been called to assess to the current and potential impact of rising floodwaters. Sadly, much of the discussion centered around hearsay as opposed to fact. Citizens clenching their radios with white-knuckled grip desperate for any morsel of impending doom coming from a broadcast studio miles from the actual events unfolding. I shook my head, cleared my throat, and asked how many people had set aside fresh water, just in case flood levels caused disruption to our freshwater supply. Something simple, well within our control, and necessary for survival. The blank looks across nearly all faces spoke volumes of how unprepared many really were.
Survival isn’t that difficult. It takes simple common sense and discipline to effectively…and gracefully deal with the unexpected. Preparing survival protocols in advance is far more effective than any reactionary measures that are made under duress.
#1) Fear – Check your head, remain calm but vigilant.
#2) Pain – Address EVERY injury immediately and don’t panic.
#3) Cold/Hot – Extreme temperature lowers the ability to think clearly find a way to stay comfortable.
#4) Water – Fresh water is imperative. Dehydration is a common threat in emergency situations. Avoid alcohol!
#5) Hunger – Snacks and energy foods can comfortably sustain you in a time of crisis.
#6) Fatigue – Avoid unnecessary activity. Power naps can maintain energy for when it’s needed most.
#7) Tools – Basic high-quality hand tools.
#8) Boredom & Loneliness – Mutually communicate with others clearly and discover ways to address common issues.
Once you have addressed your basic survival needs, address your business survival needs.
The impact of the most recent flood has cost local business owners several million dollars in non-recoverable income. The impact not only affects the businesses, but it also affects the workers that rely on their daily income to sustain their survival. When a state of emergency is declared normal day to day functions are affected. Travel routes can be closed except for emergency vehicles and many civil liberties are suspended. Many banking institutions have been closed or are operating with a bare staff. The mayor of North Dakota’s largest city encouraged “non-essential” businesses to remain closed until further notice and expressed his dissatisfaction for those that didn’t.
Assess your business critically. Are the tools of your trade all stored in one area? If so, how secure is that area from natural disasters or looters? Do you have enough cash on hand to operate for 30 days without incoming revenue? Where is your music library stored? Do you have a backup copy of your music library, software, contracts, client information stored in a secure location outside your region to assist you in recovering from a disaster? What networks do you have in place to obtain necessary equipment or staff if your total business investment is lost?
The key is preparing protocols in advance that work and maintaining the necessary supplies for survival.
The US Department of Homeland Security has some recommendations for a basic emergency supply kit:
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