| D I S A ST E R P R E PA R E D N E S S |
Planning for potential disasters can
ensure continuity to business operations
by JORDAN VENEMA
hen the Camp Fire destroyed more than 13,000
homes and 500 commercial buildings in Para-
dise in November 2018, it not only became Cali-
fornia’s deadliest wildfire, but it also eclipsed the
2017 Sonoma County Tubbs fire as the state’s most destructive
wildfire. To make matters worse, multiple California ski resorts
reported record-breaking snowfall in February, raising concerns
that melting snows could make fire-worn communities more
susceptible to flooding.
Even beyond natural phenomena, businesses are vulnerable
to an array of potential disasters, including failing infrastructures
like the Oroville Dam in 2017. And while crumbling infrastruc-
tures and changing climate make these disasters an increasing
reality for business and building owners alike, the biggest threat
might be as mundane as a burst pipe. Whatever the disaster,
preparing for all possibilities and knowing how to respond en-
sures vital continuity to business operations.
Angela Verbaera, chair of Emergency Preparedness Com-
mittee and BOMA president-elect, says it’s imperative to think
“We’ve learned that so many things can happen, and they
happen suddenly, and if you aren’t thinking about [potential di-
sasters], the chances that you’ll respond correctly are slim to
none,” says Verbaera, also the assistant chief at the California
Department of General Services.
Organizations like BOMA provide resources and training to
prepare businesses and building owners for potential disasters,
offering downloadable pamphlets relating to flood, earthquake,
and wildfire preparedness and links to various county services.
So what does being prepared look like?
“Especially for commercial owners or property managers,
it’s important to have a booklet with all your people and contacts
already in it,” says Lynsey Camara, who owns PuroClean, a fran-
chise property-restoration company. “Because if it’s a plumbing
issue and the pipes burst in the middle of the night, who’s going
to fix it? Who’s going to dry it out? What restoration company?
Have it all in this little book.”
Often, timing is of the essence, and a business that can re-
spond promptly is one well-poised to recover.
“That’s the key,” Verbaera says. “With water damage or
anything like that, the longer you leave it, you’re causing sec-
ondary damage, and then your costs are higher. If you wait two
hours, you’ll have to cut all the material out, so the quicker the
response, the more money and time you save.”
And Camara says that having a working familiarity with your
insurance policies will help ensure the speedy response is also
“Know your insurance and what your coverages are and
what’s your deductible and whether it’s worth putting in a claim,
or if it’s easier calling your handyman and having him put in
some drywall,” she says.
The same goes for liability. “That’s typically written into the
leases,” Verbaera says. “So know what your responsibilities are.”
WHEN THE STORM COMES
JM Environmental in Roseville specializes in hazardous waste
cleanup, meaning the disasters that owner John Moore has
April 2019 | comstocksmag.com