Alliance with businesses sought to deal with disaster

The Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) is sponsoring the development of “Showcase Communities” throughout the country to demonstrate the benefits of taking specific, creative steps at the state government level to reduce deaths, injuries, property damage, economic losses and human suffering caused by natural disasters.

And IBHS is looking to incorporate the business community into those plans by instituting a Disaster Recovery Business Alliance.

According to an IBHS report; “Businesses play a key role in both the Disaster Resistant Community and a Showcase Community programs. The reason is clear. If businesses do not survive a disaster, people are out of work, a community’s revenue stream is severely disrupted, and the impact prolongs the recovery process.

An increasing number of communities are examining the feasibility of establishing a ‘business recovery alliance.’ The objective is to bring together the leadership and expertise of business, emergency preparedness, the engineering and scientific community, and others to develop a public/private partnership approach to reducing the vulnerability of business and the community’s marketplace to flooding, tornadoes and severe weather, earthquakes and other hazards.”

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A Disaster Recovery Business Alliance (DRBA), according to IBHS, offers a tested model to assist local leaders in forming a lifeline-based planning organization to serve the community. It was established and funded by the Electric Power Research Institute and co-founded by the Department of Energy, and the Association of Contingency Planners.

The purposes of such an alliance include:

  • Before emergencies, to provide a forum within which local leaders and planning experts can identify and mitigate risks to essential channels of commerce serving the community and surrounding counties.
  • In addition to this basic planning, the DRBA may develop unique sharable expertise related to a particular natural, technological or man-caused risk, such as recovery of industrial refrigeration following earthquakes, tornadoes, ice storms or floods.
  • Before, during and following emergencies, to provide members with access to proven and emerging technologies in support of loss mitigation, disaster monitoring, geographic information applications, and sustainable energy and communications.
  • During and following emergencies, to accelerate socio-economic recovery through coordinated exchange of status and resource information between business members, public sector emergency authorities, and Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters.

Michele Steinberg, assistant director of Showcase Communities and Special Projects, said that Rhode Island officials have an advantage in terms of the Comprehensive Community Plans that each city and town must adopt.

“In Rhode Island, they have the opportunity to incorporate disaster loss prevention initiatives into their Comprehensive Community Plans, which are mandated by the state,” she said. Steinberg said that involving the business community in disaster preparedness is critical.

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