Attorney Bryan Andaya, a Director at ES&A law firm and former President & COO of L & L Franchise, joins producer/host Coralie Chun Matayoshi to discuss what businesses need to do to prepare for a major disaster.

Business continuity

According to FEMA, 40% of businesses will not reopen, another 25% will fail within 1 year, and over 90% will fail within 2 years after a major disaster.  An SMS study found the primary impacts and concerns of small businesses from natural disasters is a loss of electricity, communications, safety of their employees, loss of technology equipment, damage to facilities, and road access.  Before making a plan, assess what your business needs to continue to provide goods or services – not continue operations – how to continue providing goods or services, even if the operation needs to be modified or completely different.  Do people need to be at a physical location?  Is technology critical? Are there supply chain issues?  Have our suppliers been affected by the disaster, and do you have backup suppliers to meet your business needs?  Do you need to pivot to a different business model (e.g. many restaurants pivoted to take-out and delivery only during Covid).  Brainstorm the likely natural disaster that will affect your business or organization. What is the likelihood of the disaster, and what is the effect?  Do you need to have separate plans or variations to your plans depending on the type of disaster or threat (e.g. fires, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, pandemic, workplace violence, active shooter, cyberattacks).

Disaster emergency response and preparedness plans

  • Develop a robust communication system.
  • Assign a team and responsible person(s)
  • Clearly identify how to initiate a response of your emergency system.
  • Physical facilities preparation
  • Create evacuation and assembly point procedures (primary and secondary routes – clearly marked and easy to access)
  • Keep emergency contact information – public agencies, employees, key customers and clients
  • Insurance (e.g. general liability, vehicle and structure, hurricane, flood, business interruption)
  • Back up and secure data offsite in a different location
  • Encourage team members to be prepared at home
  • Collect and maintain emergency supplies
  • Have a written plan – widely distributed, acknowledged, and readily available
  • Provide training for new hires as well as refreshers for all existing staff, and make it engaging and memorable.  
  • Test and rehearse – make it realistic but not overly burdensome.

Cybersecurity disaster

  • Failure of Equipment and Loss of Data
  • Liability
  • Public relations nightmare and loss of trust
  • Ransomware
  • Educate your team and provide the necessary tools and training to best respond


  • Communication with your team, customers and clients, regulators, and public is critical following a disaster
  • Designate an experienced individual/team internally
  • Use an outside source to provide objectivity
  • At the end of the day, what’s communicated becomes reality
  • Credibility for the future

To learn more about this subject, tune into this video podcast.

Disclaimer:  this material is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  The law varies by jurisdiction and is constantly changing.  For legal advice, you should consult a lawyer that can apply the appropriate law to the facts in your case.

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