Bay County business leaders talk disaster preparedness

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Sixty business and community leaders around Bay County with all different backgrounds came to the Emergency Operations Center for the same reason.

The Bay County Chamber of Commerce held a Disaster Preparedness Seminar Tuesday morning.

Mark Bowen, the Chief of Emergency Services, along with other staff at the EOC, reminded businesses to prepare for an emergency like a fire, flood, tornado or hurricane.

Studies show 25 percent of businesses never reopen following a disaster.

"None of us want to take the time to prepare, but it's extremely important to prepare your business for any kind of a disaster," Robert Carroll, the Chairman of the Board of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce, said. "Make sure your business has a plan, your employees have a plan. That way we can all get back to work as soon as possible."

Bowen says consider getting a satellite phone since cell towers, and other forms of communication like the Internet, may be down after a disaster.

Emergency management staff also remind people to buy a weather radio to use for unpredictable disasters, such as a tornado.

Here are some other reminders for business owners:

1. Have documentation of critical information needed in the event of an emergency.
2. Establish strategic partners
3. Flood zones and evacuation routes
4. Flood coverage

In August, Bay County is expected to unveil its "Alert Bay" emergency notification system. It'll work like a reverse 911 system and let people know about emergency and severe weather information. Residents will have to "opt in" to receive the messages closer to the release date.

We've shared a list of helpful resources for businesses to get prepared for a disaster.