A significant problem encountered after a flood event is the loss of jobs and economic activity that is driven by the damage to businesses and manufacturing facilities. The destruction of equipment, inventory and data causes many privately held companies to, at best, temporarily cease operations.
The cascade effect of these closures means extended layoffs for many employees, interruption of the flow of goods produced and sold, reduced profitability, local tax base decreases and dampened local, regional and national economic activity. In most instances, the costs go far beyond removing the sludge, washing down the walls and replacing a few office chairs. Repair and/or replacement of advanced manufacturing equipment, computer systems, recreation of sophisticated data systems, raw materials or inventory replacement and significant gaps in the revenue stream create long term financial woes for both the companies and the people who work for them; 1 in 4 will never open for business again.
There are some typical methods that help businesses bridge these types of losses. Flood insurance can offer a buffer between losing everything and losing just a portion of everything, but flood insurance premiums are extremely expensive and rarely cover all of the owners expense. FEMA suggests raising the elevation of structures and equipment, but raising an entire commercial or manufacturing building is rarely practicle or even feasible and elevating equipment platforms, inventory storage systems and working platforms can conflict greatly with OSHA safety regulations.
Even if a company chooses to purchase flood insurance, the damage still occurs, cleanup must be made, data systems must be restored, machinery and inventory replaced; this process takes months to implement. Unlike some government grant assistance programs for individuals, the best that a company can hope for is a low interest SBA loan to replace some of the items that are not included in flood insurance coverage. Either way, the loss of income and asset value has a severe, detrimental effect.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to protect the facility from flooding? Wouldn’t it benefit the owners, employees, local communities and the taxpayers of this nation to invest in protecting these revenue producing, economic drivers? What is the downside of keeping businesses functioning, retaining taxable property valuations, keeping the doors open for people to make an honest living and maintaining or even enhancing our nation’s GDP?
With flood protection systems we can accomplish all of these things; for just a fraction of the cost. If we choose to do this, we can be sure that when the flood waters receed, businesses can resume normal operations, employees will retain their current income levels and the economy will not suffer; a benefit to everyone. The other option is to continue with the failed system of flood “reaction”; a system that costs American taxpayers over $30 billion/year in flood “assistance” alone. Are business owners wise enough to invest in flood protection and and are we, as a nation, wise enough to switch our focus from reaction to protection? We can hope.
For more information on how to protect your facility from flooding, feel free to contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jeff Thieding is the Managing Partner of T3 Investments and the Inventor of the Rapid Guard Flood Barrier System.