Mar 192015

I’ve helped a number of jurisdictions develop sheltering plans and exercise them so I understand current regulations in the United States. If you and your family are going to be residing in a shelter for an extended period of time you want some assurance of minimum standards.

The downside is the current regulations can limit the number of organizations willing to open their doors to the public in times of need.  “…Selecting the Shelter State codes and standards must, at a minimum, meet the Federal requirements, but can be more comprehensive. The ADA and other Federal laws, including the Stafford Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Architectural Barriers Act, provide affirmative obligations and prohibitions of discrimination on the basis of disability. No State or local government, or its contractors, may, by law, policy, or contract, provide services below those standards without violating Federal law.

Japan is going to be revising their national shelter guidelines to include ‘temporary stay facilities” which will not be required to meet all the guidelines of typical shelters.  The recent earthquake and tsunami events having given policy makers unique first-hand experience we can learn from.  They are concerned that their current regulations could end up leaving thousands of people left outside during the next major event.  Hypothermia becomes a real life safety threat in a matter of hours and without shelter could result in preventable deaths during disasters.

Life safety is the number one priority and incident stabilization the number two priority according to the Incident Command System (ICS) as referenced in the National Incident Management System (NIMS).  We are all supposed to be NIMS compliant if we want federal grant money.  It seems counter productive to have regulations so stringent they actually can impact our ability to address our top two priorities.  By revising the rules in Japan, they are actually allowing for a graduated approach to meeting the immediate and intermediate needs of disaster survivors.

The short video clip below shows people in a temporary shelter in Japan, which would technically be in violation of the laws here in the United States.  I’m a firm believer of the old adage “any port in a storm” .  I would like to see a federal definition of a temporary shelter to allow more organizations to open their doors during major events without fear of legal repercussion.  What’s your opinion?





Mar 042015
Feb 062015

I was reading an article in Business Insider about the challenges natural disasters create for many businesses.  One in four small to medium sized businesses will not reopen after a major storm.  Small businesses which have to close after a storm lose $3,000/day.

The intent of the article was to help point out the need for businesses to do develop a recovery plan and have business interruption insurance.  Both of these are wise decisions but I think there is an even more important hidden message…opportunity.

By pre-planning and taking proactive measures your business could actually stand to prosper when the next major storm hits your area.  If your competitors close due to lack of power, flood waters or restriction of access to their place of business you could stand to prosper if:

  • You have a generator for emergency power
  • You have diking material ready to divert flood waters elsewhere
  • You have an alternative temporary location to open shop
  • You have the ability to offer delivery or remote service instead of onsite
  • You have the ability to let people know you are still open for business
  • Your vendors are prepared to support you

It’s no mystery what types of events can impact your place of business.  You have no control over when they might happen. You do have control over taking the next step so you can be Open for Business when it happens.


To discuss how I might help your business before the next storm, please email