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Natural Disaster Preparation and Your Business

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

By Jennifer Cummings, Rainbow International

Time for a throwback. March 11, 2017. Winds gust up to 180 kilometres an hour and wreak havoc on the eastern portion of the province, damaging buildings, grounding flights, and leaving over 70,000 without power. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the storm caused over $45 million in insurance claims for damages, enough to be considered a catastrophic event in the insurance world. Did you feel prepared? Did you have enough advance warning to prepare your business for damage? Natural disasters don’t always come with a warning, but that doesn’t mean we as business owners can’t be prepared.

Time is money, and a natural disaster can cost you both. How much does your business stand to lose if your doors are closed for a day? How about a week? Even though business owners realize the impact of being closed, many do not have a business emergency plan in place before a natural disaster strikes.

Having a plan can help minimize the amount of time your business is closed. Sounds good, right? While being prepared does require a little work on your part, it doesn’t have to be a long, tedious process. A disaster plan is a living document that grows with you and your business.

Start by thinking about disaster scenarios that would affect your business. Begin with the easy ones: hurricanes, high winds, and of course Snowmaggeddon, and the physical damage they may cause. Then go a little deeper into situations such as power outages knocking out your freezer for days, a break and enter, or loss of communications or technology.

For each situation, draft a response plan. Prioritize operations: what needs to be repaired first? What will that cost and how long will it take? What staff will you require and what will happen to the rest? What services will you still be able to offer?

The next step is to identify ways you can reduce the risks to your business. Have your building inspected by a professional for potential areas of failure. If there’s a worn roof or pipes that have the potential to cause major water damage, map out a plan to replace or repair these before they break.

Call your insurance agent, go over your coverage, and look for areas where too little or no coverage may put you at risk.

Research alternate options for continuing business in an emergency. Do you have access to generators in a power outage? What about a temporary location to operate out of while repairs are taking place?

An emergency response plan wouldn’t be complete without key information on your business. List in one place everything you would need to find quickly—building features such as the location of water shut-off valves, gas/propane shut-off valves, electrical panels . . . Include contact information for property managers or anyone who has access to master keys, your important vendors and suppliers, insurance brokers, your business lawyer, and other professionals.

Once you have your plan drafted, make sure you share a copy with someone who can step in during an emergency: business partners, family, a lawyer, or an emergency response company that has a business program. Here at Rainbow International we offer an EliteResponse program for businesses that helps mitigate emergency risk, and we keep a copy of your plan on file.

Waiting for restoration help to come to you is time wasted. With a disaster plan in place, you can put your business first and get your doors open so you can start serving clients again!


By Jennifer Cummings,

Jennifer spent the first fifteen years of her professional career working in non-profit and communications, while harbouring a not-so-hidden love for real estate, house flipping and renovations.

Along with her husband they opened a construction company WFC Property Services Ltd, and in 2016 WFC branched out into restoration by acquiring Rainbow International St. John's where now gets to use her past career skills in solving problems and creating relationships in non-profits to help home and business owners solve problems during a devastating time and she says in both of those careers there is no better feeling than that. Rainbow International is a property damage restoration company that provides fire & smoke damage cleanup, water damage clean up, wind damage and board up services, mould remediation, asbestos remediation, content pack out/cleaning/storage, structural cleaning and odour control services to residential and commercial properties. In 2019 Rainbow International St. John's was awarded the 2020 Consumers Choice Award for Fire and Water Disaster Services and through WFC Property Services Ltd was recognized by the City Of St. John's Historical Society for our restoration project on Colonial Street for staying true to the historical aspect of the home design.

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