Preventing and Planning for Disaster

Earlier this month, the Quad Cities – mostly downtown Davenport – experienced record flooding. When a temporary barrier holding back the Mississippi River broke, blocks of downtown Davenport and the buildings in its path quickly found themselves under water. A number of nonprofits found themselves closed, unable to serve their clients from a few days to potentially a few months or more. 

Times like these also remind us of the importance of a disaster plan: how to avoid disasters, recover, and move forward. The time to plan is not while the water continues to rise, but during the months before disaster strikes.

So, what can you do? As a team, your staff and board should:

  1. Identify potential dangers that could impact your organization. Think about physical dangers (dangerous person on the premise), natural disasters, medical emergencies, and cyber-attacks. Only when you outline all the things that can go wrong, can you plan for contingencies.

  2. Prioritize each potential danger, from the most likely to the least likely. Here in the Midwest, tornados present a serious threat; hurricanes, not so much! Don’t waste time planning for a hurricane while a tornado forms in the distance.

  3. Develop a plan that includes roles and responsibilities of each staff person for each potential disaster. Engage with experts to help you identify contingencies (e.g., police, fire department, emergency management personnel). Many communities have a disaster plan; tie into those plans instead of creating your own when possible.

  4. Think about how a disaster will impact your clients. A weather disaster may not damage your organization but may cause stress for the clients you serve. How can you manage an influx of need or people with more need than they had before?

  5. Check your insurance coverage to make sure you have enough coverage in the event of an emergency and know how to contact your insurance agent in the event of an emergency.

A number of sources exist that can walk your organization through a disaster prevention or recovery plan. Take the time to protect your organization before it is too late.