Vendor Newsmaker Q&A Brock Long

Oct. 13, 2017
William B. “Brock” Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, responded to questions from business owners interested in developing pre-disaster plans for their operations.

William B. “Brock” Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was a prominent presence throughout Hurricanes Harvey and Irma as he directed the government’s recovery efforts in the stricken regions.

In cooperation with officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Long and FEMA’s staff have provided responses to questions raised by business owners interested in developing pre-disaster plans for their operations. The answers have been edited for clarity by Aftermarket Business World:

Q: What types of planning can be pursued on an immediate basis?

A: Assess the hazards that could potentially affect your organization and plan for those first. For example, is your facility vulnerable to flooding, or how could an electrical outage affect your ability to provide services? Form a planning team, identify a leader, designate an alternate facility, and plan for staff with special needs.

Communicate with your staff about your preparedness plan. If your organization has a specific mission for disaster response activities, review and drill your plan.

Q: What is the Private Sector Preparedness Program (PS-Prep)?

A: PS-Prep is a voluntary program designed to build awareness and give private sector entities of all sizes the ability to safeguard their organizations against the effects of any type of disruption – natural or human-induced – equipping owners with key processes to improve their organization’s ability to maintain operations during and after an emergency or disaster.

PS-Prep offers a private sector entity a path to assess and meet nationally recommended standards for levels of emergency preparedness. Many are not aware of the important role that standards play in our day-to-day lives; products may not work as expected, bridges and roads may be impassable, buildings would take longer to re-build, and may be unsafe to inhabit.

Q: What makes this preparedness program different from other programs?

A: PS-Prep can offer organizations several options toward preparedness, whether it’s following best practice programs, aligning to a standard, or certifying to a standard. Many are not aware of the important role that standards play in our day-to-day lives; products may not work as expected, bridges and roads may be impassable, buildings would take longer to re-build and may be unsafe to inhabit.

Q: Is the program mandatory?

A: No. PS-Prep is a voluntary program in which private sector entities are encouraged to participate to ward off the detrimental effects that can result from operational interruptions.

Q: Who oversees the certification?

A: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), American Safety for Quality (ASQ) and its affiliated National Accreditation Board (ANAB) has been selected to develop and oversee PS-Prep certification and manage the process through independent auditors. Certification costs will vary depending on the scope of the conformity assessment. Visit the ANSI website for further details about qualified certification bodies who can audit your preparedness program.

Q: What are the procedures if I’m interested in buying flood insurance?

A: Talk to your insurance agent about flood insurance. Know what is and is not covered. Ask about your deductible. Contents are not covered by a building/structure flood policy. You’ll need another policy for contents within the building.

There is typically a 30-day waiting period between when you buy a flood insurance policy and when it goes into effect, but there are some exceptions. There is a congressionally mandated surcharge added to all National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies.

Q: Are there additional questions to ask my insurance agent?

A: Yes. Does my community participate in the NFIP? Flood insurance from the NFIP is only available in participating communities, but most communities do participate. Your agent can tell you if your state and community participate, or you can look it up online in the Community Status Book.

Other questions you should be asking about include:

• What flood zone do I live in? What is my property’s flood risk?

• Is flood insurance mandatory for my property? Will the lender require it?

• Do I qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy?

• Does my community participate in the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System (CRS)? If so, do I qualify for a CRS rating discount?

• Will the federal government back my flood insurance policy?

• How much coverage should I get for my building and for my contents?

• How can I reduce the cost of my flood insurance?

• Are there additional expenses or agency fees?

• Will my policy provide Replacement Cost Value or Actual Cash Value? What’s the difference between the two?

Q: What steps can I take to reduce my flood insurance premium?

A: What you pay for flood insurance has a lot to do with how much flood risk is associated with your building. It makes sense to reduce flood risk no matter what, but in some instances reducing flood risk can also lead to lower flood insurance costs.

Just because your building is in a floodplain does not mean that you can’t reduce your flood insurance premiums. In fact, your building may have been built in a way that increases the cost of your annual premiums. For example, elevating your building just one foot above the Base Flood Elevation often results in a 30 percent reduction in annual premiums.

If you locate any machinery or equipment that services your building -- electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing, and air conditioning equipment -- below the base flood elevation, an additional surcharge will be added to your insurance premium causing your annual insurance rates to increase.

FEMA has a lot of information available to assist you in making coverage decisions, but discussing your policy options with your insurance agent is the best place to start.

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About the Author

James Guyette

James E. Guyette is a long-time contributing editor to Aftermarket Business World, ABRN and Motor Age magazines.

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