Local officials prep for annual Disaster Recovery Symposium - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Local officials prep for annual Disaster Recovery Symposium

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Early registration for the Disaster Recovery Symposium in Myrtle Beach is open to business owners hoping to learn how to protect their business, employees, and customers during a natural disaster or emergency.

According to the National Insurance Association, 25 percent of businesses that are impacted by a disaster do not reopen after. Local emergency management leaders encourage business owners in the city limits of Myrtle Beach to develop a plan before disaster strikes. That is what this symposium is designed to help you do. And the symposium will help owners prepare their employees as well.

"And also give you a list of things that all of your employees should be aware of,” said Diane Moskow-Mackenzie, the Senior Planner for the City of Myrtle Beach. “Like, where are the shut off valves? Where is the accounting system located in case the power goes off? What's the computer operations if you're relying on those? What's your backup plan for that? Where's your generator if you need electricity to keep things going."

Moskow-Mackenzie said the problem is that most people do not think a disaster will happen or that it won’t affect them. But disaster can strike at any time, and we are vulnerable to any kind of disaster along the Grand Strand. Whether it’s a fire, wind storm, ice, flood, hurricane, or power outage, being unprepared can be disastrous.

"We're building more and more buildings,” said Moskow-Mackenzie. “If we had a devastating fire here, we're building, we're more compact now, we used to be very spread out. We're not. You saw what happened in Georgetown on Front Street. It took out an entire block. It can happen."

At the symposium, speakers from FEMA, local emergency management, and local business owners will present. There will be a panel of experts from local utility companies, hospitals, the Myrtle Beach International Airport, and Coastal Carolina University. And part of the symposium with include an evacuation drill. Business owners will also learn how to handle social media during a disaster to effectively communicate with employees and customers.

Right now, event planners are preparing for the symposium on January 29. Two Myrtle Beach city leaders are spending a week in Maryland at the Emergency Training Center that FEMA coordinates. They are learning about a program called HAZUS. It takes a current map of somewhere, like Myrtle Beach, and determines the impact any type of hurricane would have on the area. With the new program, the leaders will turn it into a presentation at the symposium and look at the effects Hurricane Hugo would have on our geographical landscape today.

Moskow-Mackenzie emphasized the goal of the symposium is to make sure you are prepared before a disaster strikes, prepared to respond during a disaster, and prepared to reopen after a disaster.

"People who are not prepared, they do not have the required insurance that they need,” explained Moskow-Mackenzie. “They don't have a plan in place on how they're going to continue operations. How do they stay in touch with their employees? Do they have housing off site for their employees if they're unable to get to their own homes? How are they going to keep going."

The symposium will be held January 29 at the Convention Center. It costs $25 to pre-register and $30 at the door to attend. This price includes lunch. Click here to find more information about the symposium and how to register: http://www.cityofmyrtlebeach.com/disasterrecovery.pdf

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