Blog : Local Business to host Extreme Weather and Business Preparedness Forum March 12th

By Mike | Feb 18, 2015 | in

By Mike Bizier

PORTSMOUTH- In 2005, Hampton fire chief Chris Silver surveyed local businesses on whether or not they had an extreme weather plan. An astounding two-thirds of all businesses surveyed had no plan, while five out 10 said their business operations couldn’t afford to be down for more than five days without suffering significant loss to profits and employees.

It’s clear that extreme weather is a serious issue especially for business. It’s also clear that more frequent and severe storms have now become a fact of life in the region and are a result, at least in part, of climate change.

The Green Alliance, a local organization that works to promote and unite sustainable businesses and individuals across the region, will be hosting a free and open Business Preparedness Forum on March 12 from 6-8:00 PM at their office on 75 Congress St, Suite 304 to discuss some of these issues. The forum will be held in conjunction with the American Red Cross and the NH Coastal Adaptation Workgroup, an organization that works to help communities learn about and use existing resources to prepare for extreme weather and the effects of climate change.

 
“We’ve been working to empower and grow local green-minded businesses in NH and beyond for five years now,” says Green Alliance Director Sarah Brown, “and as much as we help a business grow and to reach their full potential brand-wise and financially, none of that matters if the business is knocked out by a power-outage. We want to help businesses maintain and strengthen what they’ve created and that means being ready to weather severe storms.”

The forum on March 12th is open to any business owner or employee that wants to learn more about getting their operations and sales protected and ready in the event of a disaster. From continuity of sales and book-keeping to securing customer data-bases to employee safety, the March 12th event will explore all the aspects of business continuity.

“We’ve been speaking to local businesses on the issue of climate awareness for a number of years,” says Roger Stephenson of the Coastal Adaptation Workgroup. “The political, structural and municipal foundations here in the Seacoast were designed to last; they’re hundreds of years old, and many of the buildings, roads, and structures that provide support were built to endure. But a business cycle is not a municipal cycle. They don’t last for that many years. Having said that, we build our communities around commerce.”

One of Stephenson’s major concerns is the importance of maintaining resilience in business, or the ability to move goods and services as quickly as possible, in the event of a weather disaster.

“I actually spoke with a representative from a car dealership who told me that if his computers are down, he can’t sell a single car,” Stephenson says. “So it’s very important for businesses to be prepared for these types of situations.” Data protection experts will be on hand at this forum to address these and other questions that relate to business operations and IT.

Coca Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England (CCNNE) has definitely been hit hard by recent severe storms and has moved to adapt. “For us, trucking is everything,” says CCNNE sustainability manager Ray Dube. “If the highways are shut down, we’re shut down. We’ve actually closed three times in the past two weeks with the incredible snowfall of early February 2015; I’ve been with the company since 1981 and I don’t ever remember this amount of closures which absolutely affects our profitability.” Dube says it’s crucial that a company like his is prepared because when weather does strike, companies like Coca Cola play a key role. “Supermarkets are one of the first things to get wiped out in a disaster because that’s where people get their necessities,” Dube says. “One of the things Coca Cola supplies these supermarkets with is water, so we are very much connected to these situations.”

CCNNE is becoming well prepared for serious environmental disasters, having pre-arranged deals with companies such as Ryder and Enterprise Cars if deliveries must be made. Company heads are responsible for letting employees know when business will be down, and databases are set to automatically back up every 24 hours. Dube will be on hand at the March 12th forum to discuss these and other preparedness measures the company is taking.

Coca Cola also works jointly with the American Red Cross in times of crisis.

“Many corporate partners work with the Red Cross by providing financial support or in kind support during major disasters,” says Maria Devlin of the American Red Cross in Concord, NH. “A company like CCNNE may be providing a corporate gift to help support our mission or they may be providing water or other beverages to shelters or for other events we are involved in.”

The American Red Cross provides such essentials as clothing, medications, and transportation for those who need them during storms and other disasters so preparedness is just as important to them as it is to CCNNE, The Green Alliance and every other business in the state. A Red Cross representative will also present at the Biz Preparedness forum on the 12th.

“During extreme weather and disaster our first responders have many priorities and if more people and businesses are prepared in advance this can help ensure that the most critical needs are managed by first responders,” Devlin says. “Being prepared before extreme weather or disasters strike is critical. As businesses are prepared, it adds to the overall community resilience which is going to have reverberations all the way down the line.”

Find out more about Coca Cola of Northern New England at www.ccnne.com
Learn more about the NH Coastal Adaption Workgroup at www.nhblog.stormsmart.org
Connect with Red Cross at
www.redcross.org/prepare/location/workplace