Red Cross Offers Emergency Tips for Businesses - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/25/07

Red Cross Offers Emergency Tips for Businesses

What would you do without your favorite restaurant or local store? How about your job? What if there were no stores or jobs in your area? Hurricane season is just weeks away and just like families, business owners need to have their own emergency plans in place. The American Red Cross Savannah chapter offered a conference at Armstrong Atlantic State University today to make sure what happened to businesses affected by Hurricane Katrina doesn't happen here.

No one will ever forget the devastation Hurricane Katrina inflicted on New Orleans. More than a year and a half after the storm moved ashore, the city is still struggling to rebuild. Eighty percent of its small and mid-sized businesses, badly crippled by Katrina, never recovered, striking a huge blow to the area's economy.

"It's the taxes that are paid by the businesses and individuals that support all the government and non-profit agencies," said John Wright, director of emergency services for the American Red Cross Savannah chapter, "and if that doesn't happen, everything goes away."

Attorney Doug Andrews wants to make sure he's doing all he can to protect his clients' files and to put his law office in practice as soon as possible after an emergency.

"We are a service provider," said Andrews. "People rely on us for their past, their present and their future."

The American Red Cross hopes by offering tips on protecting important documents and equipment, taking care of employees and letting businesses know what resources are available to them, they can help them weather the storm. CEMA Director Phillip Webber said their readiness is critical for all of us.

"To do the things that they need to do. To be prepared to recover and open back up," explained Webber. "To get people employed and open their stores and open their facilities and be ready to contribute to the recovery in this community."

The owners of Roger Wood Foods know the importance of planning for a disaster first hand. On January 13, a fire threatened to destroy all the Solana family had worked to build, but thanks to having a plan in place, the company and it's employees were back in business in about three weeks. The American Red Cross says it's a true lesson because hurricanes aren't the only dangers we face.

"We've got wildfires burning in South Georgia," added Wright. "We've had tornadoes in the last two weeks. It can be anything."

While people can't always prevent those disasters, the American Red Cross said we can all be more prepared.

For more information on tips for businesses, call the American Red Cross Savannah chapter at (912) 651-5339 or go to www.savannahredcross.org

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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