County leaders discuss preparedness

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Have you ever considered what happens in the local economy when a natural disaster or other major casualty strikes?If you are a business owner, can your business survive after all the sirens and community aid are gone?

Most federal aid comes in the form of loans for businesses and if a business has to close in an community that will mean a loss of services and jobs.Some businesses may not be able to recover from a major disaster.

Business leaders and first responders discussed what would happen to local businesses in the event that there are any major catastrophes in the area at the Anthem Sun City Community center last month.The day long meeting was more than just adiscussion it was a full table top exercise where each group discussed what they would need to do to ensure that their business and employees were safe in the event of a disaster.

The table top exercises were based on the floods that affected Pinal County and the state of Arizona in 1983 and 1993.Those floods caused major damage throughout the state which had huge economic impacts.

Onsite to help facilitate the discussion were representatives from the Arizona Division of Emergency Management as well as public safety officials from throughout the county.The participants read the three different scenarios which included the following scenarios: imminent flooding, the great flood and disaster recovery.Each were three phases in a flood disaster and those in attendance had to begin planning for the emergency, deal with the flood and then the steps of recovery.

“Businesses that have experienced a disaster and have no emergency plan; 43 percent of them are never able to reopen after the disaster,” Layton Dickerson of the Arizona Emergency Management explained.“Of the businesses that reopen only 29 percent of them will remain in operation two years after the disaster.”

Those statistics are one of the primary reasons county officials found it important to sponsor this exercise.

One of the key things that was discussed is how businesses need to make a disaster plan in the event that something should happen.Business leaders discussed how they would communicate with staff and suppliers should they be closed down.The forum also provided resources for helping businesses to begin setting up their emergency plans.Some resources are available online at FEMA: and through the Small Business Administration:

The event was supported by Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project, Curis Resources, Biz Pro Services, Future Forward Foundation, Holiday Inn Express and CARDF in addition to Pinal County.

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