Opinion: Building up resiliency in our community and businesses
September 27, 2017
Wildfires in the West. Hurricanes in the South. There are a lot of natural disasters occurring in our world right now. You have seen the devastation on the news, and it is heartbreaking that so many have lost so much.
If you have the means, please donate to one of the many organizations working to help communities and families in these areas. There are a variety of nonprofits to choose from, and a great place to find out more about a charity before you donate is Guidestar.org.
A few years ago, the Tahoe Prosperity Center (TPC) joined forces with the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) on the AlertTahoe fire camera system. These cameras have views of our forests and mountains to watch for smoke and fire.
The TPC raises funds for the cameras, while UNR manages the network, builds the camera systems and monitors them along with the help of local fire agencies. When we first started this campaign, there were some who asked why the Tahoe Prosperity Center would get involved in this project.
The reason was simple — protecting Tahoe's communities from wildfire, protects our environment, community and economy. To us, this was an easy project to champion and in the past two summers, has already proven its value with 49 fires stopped before they got out of control. Obviously, stopping a disaster before it occurs is the best option. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible.
What can we learn from the hurricanes, wildfires, and floods hurting many communities right now? The most important thing is resiliency. The Small Business Administration estimates about 25 percent of small- to mid-size businesses do not reopen.
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It is hard to imagine a quarter of Tahoe's small businesses never opening their doors again. One could be your favorite restaurant, your hairdresser, or your day care provider. Regardless, the best way to ensure your business is resilient after a disaster (be it a wildfire, flood, or the heavy snow load on a flat roof as we had this past winter) is to have an emergency plan in place.
The Tahoe Prosperity Center urges you to prepare a simple emergency plan — here is a simple one for residents: https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.
For businesses, you need to not only plan for the safety of your employees, but for your future business resiliency. That means thinking about your backup file system, your customer communication needs, and knowing your insurance agent. Here is a site with a variety of checklists depending on the issue: http://www.preparemybusiness.org/planning.
We hope to keep Tahoe from another devastating Angora Fire with the help of the AlertTahoe camera system, but there is no guarantee. What we can do is encourage business owners and residents to have a plan in place before a natural disaster.
My family put our important papers (birth certificates, etc.) in a small fire safe in our house. We also boxed up our photo albums — two easy things to grab and go if we have enough time in the event of an evacuation. Disaster planning will help our local small businesses reopen. This also keeps our economy and community prosperous.
Please check out the links and create a plan. Because no one really wants to lose their favorite restaurant, hair stylist ,or babysitter!
Heidi Hill Drum is the CEO of the Tahoe Prosperity Center, a Tahoe Basin-wide organization dedicated to uniting Tahoe's communities to strengthen regional prosperity. She has expertise in collaborative governance and is a 21-year resident. Heidi and her husband John are happily raising their two boys in Lake Tahoe.