Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” We think these are wise words that apply directly to disaster preparedness.

As a small business that has flooded four times, being prepared has become a daily part of running our business. Many of you will recall a few weeks ago Houston was hit hard by Tropical Depression Imelda, causing record flooding. Imelda was a surprise to many Houstonians–we knew the rain was coming, but it came so suddenly and dumped so much rain, that many were caught off guard. Thousands of people were stranded on freeways, and many were caught, stuck, as water rose around them.

Sitting in the business office that Thursday morning, we were watching it develop carefully, though we were optimistic. The day before, we had moved everything up off the ground–computers, important documents, technological equipment–just in case. In fact, that Thursday morning, Bobby, me, and other management staff had gone to Hobby Airport (an area which had flooded earlier in the week) for a meeting. However, by eleven, the power had gone out twice and come back on, due to thunderstorms, and we were beginning to question how bad it was going to get.

We had checked the Bayou gauge earlier in the day, and when we checked again around noon, we saw it probably wasn’t working properly-it seemed too low compared to what we could see behind the bakery. The Brays Bayou sits right behind our bakery, so we went outside to eye it. The sight was not encouraging–the Bayou was very high, only seven feet from being level with our backyard.

We began to make plans. Even though the rain had stopped, we knew that the Bayou had a possibility to continue rising. We moved our equipment off the floor, and began watching the news coverage. The 610 and Stella Link exit was blocked with high water, as well as where Braeswood meets the Loop. We weren’t going anywhere!

One thing that you have to remember about being prepared for a disaster is that you aren’t going to feel calm or collected. You will most likely feel anxious–which is why it is so vital to have a plan already established, so you can think clearly when things are rough.

As a preemptive measure on Wednesday, we moved our vans to higher ground. Vehicles are expensive, and if they get flooded out, we would take a big hit to our revenue. Find a place safe to put your vehicles–and remember that just because it hasn’t flooded before, doesn’t it mean it won’t this time!

One other tip is to utilize the Cloud. After Hurricane Harvey, we quickly came to the realization that the Cloud was our best friend in terms of staying organized and keeping all of our important documents handy. We feed all of our documents into specific, detailed folders for easy reference. We keep ALL of our information in these folders–insurance, contact information, past flood documents . . . the list goes on and on. We deeply encourage you to either purchase a scanner or download an app that allows you to upload to the Cloud! It has been a vital life-saver for our business’ disaster preparedness plan!

What are your stories? Do you have tips on disaster preparedness? Do you have questions for us on how we prepare? Send them over, and we’ll do our best to answer!