Disaster-preparedness effort draws business participants

A committee designed to help northern Nevada businesses survive and recover from disasters has drawn interested from nearly 100 businesses in the past nine months, says Christina Conti, program assistant for Washoe County Emergency Management.

PREPARE Washoe also is assembling a resource directory of area businesses so its members know what they can do if an emergency hits the Truckee Meadows, Conti says.

"The vision is to have open communication between local businesses and local government to give them training possibilities and information so that in the event of an emergency they are able to sustain and survive," Conti says. "We really want business to have a quick turnaround for themselves and to help the community recover."

Businesses involved with PREPARE Washoe will be among the first called upon to contract for emergency services.

"An emergency is no time to exchange business cards," Conti says. "The more contacts we make the better prepared we will be for recovery in the region if there was something to happen."

Buzz Harris, assistant executive director with Nevada Chapter of Associated General Contractors, says the organization is participating in PREPARE Washoe meetings to best find out how and where it can help in event of emergency.

The Nevada Chapter AGC has a strong history of disaster preparedness the organization formed the Contractors Auxiliary in 1997 in the wake of the Great Flood, when heavy equipment operators and hundreds of construction professionals were unable to help mitigate the flood's damages due to lack of a formal disaster response network.

Harris says that despite the severe downturn in construction in the Truckee Meadows and resulting sell-off of heavy equipment, the Contractors Auxiliary is not lacking for disaster-ready equipment and operators.

"Not knowing how bad an emergency may be, you never know how much equipment you will need," Harris says. "You should always prepare the best you can within reason with regard to financial and physical resources."

The next PREPARE Washoe meeting will be April 20 from 9-11 a.m. at the Regional Emergency Operations Center at 5195 Spectrum Blvd. in Reno. RSVP to Conti at 337-5855.

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