Opportunity in disaster

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Courtesy of Waste Advantage Magazine

Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Preparation for chopping down a tree and planning for a disaster have a lot in common. This article will provide guidance on how to profit handsomely from disaster, if you are prepared.

Just because your community is in the middle of a major disaster does not mean there are no opportunities for your waste removal business; in fact, quite the contrary. Unexpected events that destroy property and threaten public safety are viewed by most as something to simply be survived. As a member of an industry that handles a community’s normal waste and debris, a little preparation may position you to profit financially and collect goodwill in times of disaster.

Preparedness Isn’t Just for the Government
Has your company considered the most likely disasters in your area and then proactively developed a plan? You should be prepared to handle the additional load that waste and debris that a disaster can create. You should be certain that you have the manpower and access to additional hauling capacity as well as a plan for where to haul the debris—it may not be destined for your local landfill. Do you understand any special restrictions or temporary changes in ordinance for disaster debris? Understand what circumstances will trigger State and Federal financial assistance, who administers the assistance and how it is administered. You must understand any documentation that is required and any approvals of certification that are required in advance and have reasonable expectations of your role in the incident. Also consider how the equipment you have might be re-purposed in a specific disaster. For instance, few Gulf Coast waste haulers had considered how their personnel, specialized clothing and containers could be re-purposed to scoop up Gulf crude and dollars from BP.

You do not have to become an expert in all hazards because the technical intricacies of a disaster rarely change the fact that there is debris left when the disaster is over. Your planning can be as simple as knowing that some things change because of a declared disaster and having a clear understanding of what you need to do or who you need to talk with to get the answers you need. Still, planning beyond the minimum will save you trouble later because the people you want to talk with have a tendency to be a little busy when disaster strikes.

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