Disasters come in all shapes and sizes and almost all of them can be a huge risk to a company that can increase expenditure and impact the bottom line. Fortunately, disasters can also be mitigated or, at least, have the risk reduced in such a way that it's manageable.

Unfortunately, most companies don't take the time to properly plan for those disasters (from a simple planning standpoint) or implement measures to allow those plans to actually succeed.

Additionally, companies seem to only associate disasters with theatrical traumatic events such as an asteroid striking the earth. As already indicated disasters can be earth shaking, literally, or not but still have a very detrimental impact to your company.

Let's discuss some types of disasters but understand that not all disasters would be discussed....but if you start to contemplate disasters and how you can reduce their impact then the purpose of the article has achieved it's goal. Additionally, it's also important to recognize and understand that one disaster could cascade into another disaster.

  • Disasters impacting the global landscape
    • Asteroids or Meteors - Obviously we must start with this one as the amount of movies created around this particular subject seems to be countless. However, lets go from not so bad to super bad when discussing this. This particular type is almost not worth even discussing due to very little you can do about it but the side effects of this type is something to consider. Not so bad could be viewed as a smaller object striking the earth but of such a magnitude that the effects can negatively effect a particular company or a global economy. For example, a few years back an asteroid penetrated into Russian airspace and roughly disintegrated with the force of a small nuclear weapon. The effects were such that local companies had to shut down, buildings collapsed and windows for hundreds of miles were shattered. Small asteroids such as this have struck the earth quite a lot with, what seems like, an impact of this small magnitude happening every 100 years or so. You may wonder why this wouldn't be classified as a local disaster...quite simply because it impacted the globe and came from beyond the solar system. There isn't anything that could really be done to avert the impact or prevent it from happening at all. Of course we also have the "super bad" impacts that most movies are based on. Once we start contemplating that category of serious impact there really is no reason to consider how to mitigate that effect but focus more on protecting your family.
    • Tsunami - Tsunamis can certainly have a global impact based on where they come to shore and how big they are. A smaller tsunami hitting an island in Micronesia wouldn't be the same as a Tsunami hitting the West Coast of the United States. Conversely a large Tsunami hitting virtually any populated area is likely going to have an immediate negative impact to the population but also any surrounding communities. Depending on where it hit would also make a difference in that hitting certain industrial areas of the globe could likely shut down that industrial area. A prime example in this case would be San Francisco, California where quite a bit of technology is developed or supported or are where the headquarters of major international corporations are at. Imagine the impact to the globe if Silicon Valley was wiped off the face of the earth.
    • Terrorism - Some may wonder why this is categorized as a globel disaster. The simple answer is all the negative side effects as a result of it and a prime example would be the horrible events of 9/11/2001 in New York City. When the terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center several companies were immediately shut down and the global economy was immediately effect. Additionally, the United States Government shut down all air travel until additional security measures were implemented. This virtually stopped all forms of cargo via air which negatively impacted businesses across the globe.
    • Pandemic - Pandemics never get enough credit or respect as a global disaster. Realistically, global diseases or viruses should have more seriousness by companies however generally don't because they don't have the immediate in-your-face impact like an asteroid or tsunami. Pandemics generally grow slowly in size, hard to visualize, and persist longer than expected. It seems that because you can't actually "see" the virus or disease that some people don't view it as a problem. However common pandemics have made a severe impact on human history and still do. Common pandemics would be SARS, Cholera, the Flu, HIV/AIDS, Corona Virus, the Black Plague, etc... Once a company or government identifies a pandemic the initial effects are obvious but the side effects can also have a negative effect on a company or a community. Imagine the effects felt immediately by single parents when a school closes it's doors for a virus, now imagine that same concept but the single parent is a police officer, fire fighter, or other emergency responder. That single parent would have to take care of their children but also wouldn't be able to perform their job protecting society. This could increase crime, make it difficult to put out fires, or put someones life at risk when in need of medical help.
    • Hurricanes or Cyclones - While Tsunamis are quite often a complete surprise, hurricanes can be seen building up in strength and size. Forecasting their exact landfall is essentially a guess however, regardless of where, the impacts are always devastating and larger storms can create hundreds of miles of coastland uninhabitable. Obviously, exactly where a hurricane or cyclone makes landfall is important to consider. For example, Houston is the oil capital of the world as well as the location of NASA's Johnson Space Center when major hurricanes hit. Other places that can have a serious negative impact would be major industrial areas of India (where a large majority of outsourcing occurs). Follow on side effects of major hurricanes are the spread of disease and social breakdown.
    • Nuclear - Any incident relating to nuclear is never good and a prime example of disasters connecting to one another would be the tsunami that led to the Fukishima nuclear meltdown. To make matters worse, higher radioactivity has been detected in the pacific ocean and sourced from Fukishima. While a majority of companies may not be concerned about nuclear incidents, any nuclear incident automatically has a global effect even if only viewed as a minor event. However, companies that may be close to a nuclear plant may want to consider the effects should there be an incident.

  • Localized disasters
    • Terrorism - Similar to a global terrorist event, terrorist events can be localized as well and create havoc on a community or company. A good example would be the San Bernadino terrorist couple that went on a shooting spree. This resulted in a lock down of the area and the closure of numerous businesses until the terrorists could be stopped.
    • Earthquake - Earthquakes are always localized and can severely disrupt a business. Similar to a tsunami though, depending on where the earthquake hits there could be much more long term side effects and a great example of that would be the California quakes that hit high technology areas. Unfortunately, the side effects of earthquakes can also be equally dangerous with the mandatory closure of utility services such as gas or electricity that can affect a community.
    • Active Shooter - Unfortunately, disgruntled employees can fall into this category or possible prior customers or simply companies that portray themselves as weak targets for terrorists. Regardless of the cause, an active shooter situation will shut down a company for days if not weeks while the authorities complete any investigations.
    • Volcanoes - Volcanoes will assuredly have a local affect but can easily affect global operations. Volcano activity in Hawaii impacted local businesses as well as businesses involving tourism. However another volcano that affected the global business environment was the volcanic incident in Iceland. The resulting ash fall out left micro-particles in the air that affected aircraft engines. As a result numerous flights were cancelled which prevent companies to conduct business and business awaiting cargo getting affected.
    • Bomb Threat - Bomb threats are again extremely dangerous as they are almost always placed where anyone affected is unaware of where the bomb is located. This brings into other terrorist opportunities such as an active shooter situation but certainly increases the confusion that can be felt by a company. Additionally, even if the threat was a hoax, the amount of uncertainty felt by employees would increase.
    • Hurricanes - Smaller hurricanes will obviously affect local companies and the more experienced companies in a high probability hurricane area will have more experience dealing with the outcome and be better prepared. However, small hurricanes can become large hurricanes quickly and the unknown factor of the outcome of a hurricane can always be disconcerting.
    • Flooding - Sometimes a side effect of hurricanes, flooding can be a big issue. However, even if there are no hurricanes large amounts of rain fall may occur and improper planning by local governments can result in flooding affecting businesses or communities. Prime examples of flooding would be the Houston floods that put over 30 feet of water in some parts of downtown Houston. The resulting flooding knocked businesses out of action as well as destroyed millions of dollars worth of homes.
    • Fires - Similar to localized flooding or a small earthquake, fires can also have an extreme negative impact on a business. in 2019, fires in California resulted in PG&E turning off the electricity to prevent further fires from occuring. Lack of power affected numerous businesses as well as placed the elderly and sick in positions of increased danger due to health issues.
    • Social breakdown - Likely the worst example of a localized disaster would be social breakdown. Human populations have an easy sense of fear and can be unpredictable in harsh or unknown situations. Fear leads to anger or actions under the pretense of protecting themselves or their family. Lack of experience in stressful situations only propagates poor decisions which can easily lead to further social breakdown. Additionally social breakdown can occur for a variety of reasons. A simple example would be the rioting that occured due to the OJ Simpson trial or the looting, raping, and killing that occured during Hurricane Katrina-Rita in New Orleans.
How can you do better or protect your company with less risk? Contacting Arrakis for help is certainly a start. With exception of volcanoes and tsunamis, we have personnel that have experienced all the environments listed above with extensive experience in hostile environments. Arrakis can help you develop your plan as well as help implement technology or procedures for your plan to ensure a better chance at success. Don't be left behind when disasters happen.

Contact Arrakis for more information.