Is your business prepared for an emergency? Free classes in Federal Way

Weather reports for the Billings, Montana, area for Father’s Day didn’t hold much promise for sunny outdoor activities, with heavy rain and thunderstorms predicted. Then, around 4 p.m., dark clouds formed and reports of severe rain and large hail started coming in.

By 4:24 p.m., amateur radio operators relayed the first reports of a tornado touching down. By Monday morning, a local state of emergency had been declared. The area had not experienced a tornado since 1958.

After the storm had passed, the owner of a local motorcycle business, Reiter's Kawasaki, arrived to find his showroom a jumbled mess of damaged motorcycles, glass, broken light fixtures and buckled garage doors. Another adjoining business experienced broken windows and water damage from heavy rains, while still other nearby businesses experienced only minor damage.

The tornado near Billings reminds us how important it is to be prepared for the unexpected. For businesses like Reiter’s Kawasaki, being prepared may prove the difference between financial survival and business closure. According to the U.S. Small Business Association, an estimated 25 percent of businesses never re-open following a disaster, with an estimated 50 percent closing within two years of a disaster. Having a plan in place to resume business as quickly as possible will help businesses avoid becoming part of the statistic. The place to start preparations is by creating an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP).

An EOP includes things a business will do before, during and after a disaster and incorporates contingency planning to enable at least a modified schedule of operations until a return to standard operations is possible. Even a modified schedule of services improves the overall likelihood of weathering the storm, so to speak. As in the recent tornado, many disasters will have minimal impact to some, while others experience more impact. To the extent a local business will be able to offer services, the higher the overall resiliency of the local community and economy.

Free workshop

If you would like to know more about creating an EOP for you business, the City of Federal Way’s Emergency Management Division is offering a Disaster Ready Business workshop series that will help you in the creation of your plan. The workshops are free and consist of three evening sessions on the following dates: July 28, Aug. 4 and Aug. 11. All classes 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. RSVP is required as space is limited.

Register by e-mail to with your name, business name and phone contact.

Get to know your neighboring business owners by attending the course together. Having a common vision during times of emergency will improve your success.

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