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Shockoe Bottom business owner says disaster plan is essential

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — When catastrophe strikes, Sarah Paxton want to be ready just in case Mother Nature intends to redecorate her furniture store.

“Hurricanes and rain are no friends of the Shockoe Bottom area,” said Paxton. “When we heard Isabel was on the way, that is when we put our plan into place.”

The owner of La Diff in Shockoe Bottom says a disaster plan is essential.

“Well it’s important for us from the standpoint of our employees, obviously,” said Paxton. “This building endured Agnes and Camille within three years of each other before the flood wall existed.”

La Diff ramped up its disaster escape plan in earnest following Tropical Storm Gaston when storm waters were lapping at the building along 15th Street and a 30 foot delivery truck was washed away right into the canal.

“We were ridiculously lucky when that storm hit. Many of our neighbors lost their businesses entirely or were closed for months,” said Paxton.

Laura Southard with The Department of Emergency Management says the Oklahoma disaster is a vivid reminder for every business to draft a game plan.

Southard recommends establishing a phone tree, an escape plan and backup records off site.

“These are simple things you can do that don’t cost much and can save lives,” said Southard. “There are some studies that show up to 40% of businesses do not recover after disaster.”

Steve Quiriconi with Bon Secour and clutching his company’s standard Emergency Manual says each department at their hospitals are equipped with specific directions when and if calamity calls.

“We have a plan and we test it. We practice and we feel we’re ready,” said Quiriconi. “This plan is scalable. We can go large or we can go small.”

Back at La Diff in the Bottom owner Sarah Paxton hopes never to activate her drill again. She says it’s reassuring to have one and not need it than need one and not have a plan.

“Each time you have a mini disaster you put another safety net in place,” said Paxton. “For us every time we go through something like that or see someone else experience that it helps us prepare for what could happen.”

If you’re interested in learning about low-cost emergency plans for your family or business you can visit www.readyvirginia.gov

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