Immediately following a disaster

Go to secondary navigation
Disaster recovery toolkit

Immediately following a disaster

First steps

The following is the suggested initial steps you should consider taking immediately following a disaster like a fire, flood or earthquake. These steps are focused on business issues only.

Initial assessment checklist (DOC).

  1. Overall damage assessment – develop a list of destroyed or damaged items, and estimate replacement costs. Include photos of the damage if possible. Do not commence cleaning up until you have contacted your insurer.
  2. Contact your insurance company and discuss your damage assessment, your level of cover, how quickly your claim can be processed, how much and in what form a claim will be paid and when an insurance assessor will visit.
  3. Contact all employees and establish their position – have they been affected, will they be able to return to work, when will they be able to return to work?
  4. Contact key customers and suppliers to advise that the business has been affected. Let them know that you will notify them when you are ready to trade again and advise them if orders cannot be completed. Work with your customers to devise a strategy to assist them in continuing to receive the goods or services you usually provide – if they are kept informed they are more likely to work with you to get back to business.
  5. Make a list of key equipment, stock and other activities of the business that need to be operational for the business to reopen. If any of these items have been salvaged during the clean-up, store them in a safe and secure place.
  6. If required, look for alternative temporary business premises. When assessing this requirement, not only does the premises need to be safe but you need to consider whether your employees, customers and suppliers will be able to access the alternative premises.
  7. Contact government agencies that may be providing assistance to affected businesses.
  8. Review your business records – collect all business records that have been salvaged, or copies kept off site that are retrievable. Where there are gaps in records, consider alternative sources to help you reconstruct your financials. You may like to talk to your accountant at this stage for assistance.

Reality check

Before jumping right in to reopening or continuing your business after any disaster, you should do a “reality check”. Such a “reality check” should be focused on whether you really want to restart or continue your business. While business owners may not be ready for such a “reality check”, it should be undertaken at some point. You might need the help of a trusted adviser, such as your accountant to help you make these decisions.

Reality check checklist (DOC)

If your passion for your business is no longer there or the business was not achieving your objectives before the disaster, one option is to exit your business.


    Use the following immediately following a disaster.