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How surviving businesses respond during and after a major disaster


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Disasters take an enormous toll on businesses, ranging from short periods where no income will be generated, to permanent closure. When businesses fail, the economic repercussions add more negative consequences to a community already struck by disaster. One of the first needs in disaster recovery is distribution of goods and services. One of the first goals in reconstruction is regrowth of the economy. Both of these needs are served by business activity in the community. It is important, therefore, that government bodies assist and interact with affected businesses to increase their chances of survival. What helps or hinders business survival of a cataclysmic disaster? This paper uses business survivors of Hurricane Katrina to illustrate a timetable of business disaster response and similarities between disaster response and new business start-ups. In conclusion, the paper explores characteristics of government response that can help more businesses survive and prosper in the midst of a disaster.

The concepts in this paper reflect ongoing research on business survival under crisis (Zolin and Kropp (2007) 'Communicable crisis: prevention, response and recovery in the global arena').

Keywords: business continuity; contingency planning; disaster response; emergency preparedness

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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  • Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning is the essential professional journal publishing peer-reviewed articles and case studies written by and for business continuity and emergency managers.

    Each quarterly 100-page issue combines provocative thought-leadership pieces – which expand what can be achieved with business continuity and emergency management – with detailed, actionable advice and ‘lessons learned’, showing how programmes have been specified, designed, implemented, tested and updated, as well as how interruptions, emergencies and exercises have been managed in practice. The journal focuses on key strategic and business issues – not technical minutiae – with no advertorial or advertising.

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