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  • Writer's pictureErika Andresen

Creative Solutions Should Be Common

You know what CC stands for? "Creative Commons." Creative Commons makes works available for others to use and build upon. Business continuity solutions should be the same. Do you know what R&D stands for? That's right: rip off and duplicate. Steal these creative ideas!

Current events should inform your business continuity plan. So should the city's Emergency Management Plan (because if they are shutting things down, you are very likely to be impacted). Learn from them: both what to do and what not to do.

What to do: Arriving back back in AVL from NYC, there was no water service in areas due to the cold snap, the airport included. They had a row of port-a-potties outside. They couldn't shut down but they needed toilets. Wonderful solution. I went to REI on my way home. "Is your bathroom out like the airport?" "Yeah, we're going to have to close early." "Not if you got some port-a-potties!" "Wow, didn't even think about that!"

If water is not integral to your operations, you can still have the comfort with less luxury...and still stay open.

A hospital in downtown Memphis, TN, experienced a winter storm previously and decided to prepare then for the next one. Two steps: installing pumps into its water system to increase pressure and keeping enough bottled water stocked for 1,700 patients. Equipment is being sterilized with bottled water. Hands are being washed with portable hand washing stations.

The president of the hospital stated they adopted these measures "just in case" and found themselves in the "just in case." Music to a business continuity professional's ears.

Another Memphis business, a restaurant, offered patrons a $5 gift certificate if they brought in their own bottled water or soft drinks, also advising that things may taste differently due to being washed with boiled water. Not only will people show up, food at the restaurant won't have to go to waste. This is a perfect example of informing and thinking creatively to solve a problem.

Even more robust thinking has the mayor of Byram, MS, looking at getting their own water system. It will be costly and take time, but Byram is growing and the need will be there. They are currently on Jackson's water system which had problems in winter last year and this August. If it does get build, it will be done with the ability to handle both cold temperatures and torrential rains.

All the times, the investment is worth it to keep things flowing and thriving. This is how a community shows its resilience.

What not to do: I want to address two things that greatly impact any plan: "we've been through this before" and doing things too late. Hurricane Ian proved Fort Myers wrong as did this Christmas blizzard for Buffalo.

Fort Myers, experts in hurricanes, developed a plan agreed on by the surrounding communities years earlier about evacuations. Those wickets were hit yet the leaders in Fort Myers decided NOT to order an evacuation until it was too late. People died. Why do all the pre-testing and determination if you aren't going to follow your own plan?

Buffalo is used to bomb cyclones and snowstorms. They just had 80 inches of snow dump on them right before Thanksgiving. They got this! No, they didn't.

Despite indications this would be a blizzard vs a snowstorm (indices are wind which impacts visibility), they didn't make the decision to ban travel on roads until well after people already started their holiday traveling. Bans are intended to keep the citizens AND first responders safe. Both wound up in perilous and fatal predicaments as a result. A 22 year old nursing student who worked 8 minutes from home should not have frozen to death in her car after being stuck for more than 48 hrs. Help didn't arrive because they were attending to others as well as getting stuck themselves.

Buffalo learned they are not as prepared as they thought they were. They will change their plans for next time. But will they decide to abandon the plan, like Fort Myers did? Hopefully not because they will have to make a newer plan eventually because even this one won't be good enough. Climate change was listed at the #1 cause for concern in the world for 2023 among experts.

Plan better than the government does. The government, more often than not, does the minimum because that is all their budget can afford and their constituents demand (hardly anyone screams for better Emergency Management funding and programs until *after* a devastating event occurs).

The government can't always come to the rescue. First responders can't always come to the rescue. Plan like no one is coming. It will save your employees lives; they are truly the most valuable asset to a company. The fallout from the Christmas winter storm continues to become more clear, but so do wonderful stories of how places prepared in order to continue to provide service.

Secure. Survive. Thrive.

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