I just finished a two day engagement at the Tidewater Community College Academy for Nonprofit Excellence where we discussed several nonprofit standards. During the class, many of the students were concerned with the possible damage that may be caused by Hurricane Earl that is fast approaching the North Carolina and Virginia Coast.
The class had a great discussion regarding Disaster Planning and here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Have a phone tree. Make sure there is a clear discussion regarding how people will be notified regarding how to take action in case of a storm.
- Have an emergency notification line. This is typically a recorded message that can be checked frequently by people regarding the status of your organization during inclement weather. This frees up your main line to handle other calls.
- Have offsite storage of documents. Sometimes it's good to have offsite storage in another city/state in addition to the records you have locally.
- Consider a remote call center if needed. Several nonprofits who were affected by Hurricane Katrina were able to survive because they were able to direct calls to a remote call center during crisis times. The call center can be a simple answering service to catalog calls or it can be an official "hotline" if professionals are required. Tailor this to the needs of your organization.
- Consider a backup plan regarding personnel. Similar to our "chain of command" that we recognize within the government where decision making is made by the President, Vice President, and then the Speaker of the House, you should have a clear plan of action regarding who is in charge of decision making if key leaders are unavailable.
- Who do you know will need additional assistance? Many people, especially seniors will have special needs and may not be able to leave quickly during an evacuation. What can you do to ensure these people will ahve the help they need during an evacuation?
Do you have an emergency or disaster plan in place in your organization?
Who are your key decision makers, and who can step into their roles if they are unable to perform their duties?
Who is the first person you contact when an emergency strikes?