The Madison County Chamber of Commerce invited Madison County Emergency Management Director Dean Stevens to its monthly luncheon, July 7, to discuss how to prepare for emergencies.
“Our community has been through some difficult things, last October with the tornado,” MCCC Board Member Heather Dietiker said. “We just want to make sure that everyone has a plan for their small business or if you are part of another business to make sure that you have some sort of plan together.”
Stevens, who has been involved with emergency services in Madison County for 21 years, is currently part of Cherokee Pass Fire District and Madison County Ambulance in addition to his role as the emergency management director.
“My first big event as the emergency management director was the last tornado,” Stevens said. “I guess a month or two after I took over, COVID-19 started so that was a pretty big deal, but the tornado was the first big natural disaster I dealt with.”
Stevens said, among the things the community ran into were a lot of businesses without a plan.
“Businesses that weren’t directly affected by the tornado damage still had to deal with power outages, and they didn’t have a plan,” Stevens said. “They didn’t know where to get power, to get generators or what to do.”
Stevens handed out a a packet of information to help the chamber members with the basics of developing a plan for their businesses. The front sheet listed phone numbers for all the major departments in the county as well as his personal cell phone number. He said, in the event of an emergency, any emergency, 911 should be your first call.
“Once it is over and once everything is getting going, if you have questions, you’ve got the numbers on there,” Stevens said. “If I can’t answer your question, I’ll find someone who can.”
Regarding the creation of a good plan, Stevens said, it is important to decide what employees should do and where they need to go.
“If you have employees there, they are your responsibility,” Stevens said. “Have something in place and let them know what to do and who to call.”
Next, it is important to develop a business continuity plan. Stevens said, resuming operations as soon as possible following a disaster should be considered essential.
“Have a plan in place and know the contacts you need to keep your business going for a few weeks,” Stevens said. “Some people after the tornado were back up and going in a couple of days and some of them still aren’t completely back up and going now.”
Another important step, which should be reviewed regularly, is to talk to your insurance provider.
“Something a lot of people ran into with this last disaster was, if you built your building or bought it 10-15 years ago, you can’t replace it now if you have it covered for what you built or bought it for,” Stevens said.
Other steps to create a business disaster recovery plan included in the packet were stockpile essential supplies, compile important contact information, create a communications strategy, report losses to the SBA (Small Business Administration), discuss logistics with your suppliers and clients, and duplicate and backup records/data.
The next meeting of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce will be Aug. 4 at the Marquand Community Center and will be catered by Num Num’s Sweet Shop.
Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at email@example.com