Chambers of Commerce and their Role in Disaster Preparedness

by Christina Green

With a series of storms that recently ravaged several areas and hurricane season fast approaching, disaster planning is on many people’s minds.

chamber disaster recoveryA member of the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook asked:

Does your Chamber organization have a role in your community’s disaster plan? If so, what is it? And, does your community know what the plan is?

How Do Chambers Help?

 

For chambers that serve areas frequently ravaged by storms, wildfires and the like, disaster preparedness seems to be just another part of the way they serve their communities. For instance, the Greater Pensacola Chamber advises on its website that it extends an “important link between business resources and business needs immediately before, during and after an event.” It dedicates a page on its website to disaster preparedness and response, including helpful links to the county website and alerts.

Some chambers have banded together with government officials and local branches of nonprofit organizations such as the United Way and other health and service organizations. (Interestingly enough, one of the chambers reports this same group coming together when a major employer is downsizing.)

Other chambers participate in hazard mitigation programs with members of their communities. The Coweta Chamber of Commerce planned an Emergency Preparedness Expo with its county emergency management team and worked on a county-wide community assessment tool.

It’s not only storms and fires that can ravage an area and disrupt the lives and livelihood of a community. Sudden environmental disasters can devastate an area as well. When this happens many community members look to chambers for help and direction.

Someone who knows this well is Edward Rodriquez, the President & CEO of the Alabama Gulf Coast Area Chamber of Commerce. He recently shared with the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Facebook Group that this chamber has joined a

 a Coastal Resiliency Council (CRC) in the aftermath of a man-made disaster (the 2010 oil spill) which is ready for activation in ANY disaster, whether man-made or natural. The CRC (and its fully-equipped War Room) is comprised of representatives from all local governments, two chambers, school system, social service, tourism bureau, and others. The CRC’s purpose is to help businesses get back up and running as quickly as possible.”

Chambers advocate on behalf of businesses but they also work tirelessly to ensure businesses have the resources they need to continue operating. Disaster planning and recovery is part of that mission.

If you’d like to share what your chamber is doing as part of its disaster planning or recovery efforts, please leave a comment here.

 

Guest post by Christina Green

Image via Flickr by diana_robinson

   
 
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