As Hurricane Florence is wreaking havoc along the coasts of North and South Carolina, we are bombarded with images of homes being washed away by storm surge. When the news shows images of the devastating fires in California, the images of choice are homes. It is nothing short of tragic to see homes filled with special treasures and memories destroyed by natural disasters, but have you ever wondered what happens to the businesses that are in the line of hurricanes, fires, and tornadoes?

Visa has.

And, Visa has found that after a natural disaster, 40% of businesses that were affected by a disaster do not reopen immediately after a disaster. The impact of a natural disaster lasts, as 75% of business without a plan of action post-disaster actually fail three years after the disaster.  Creating a natural disaster plan is a necessity for businesses in hurricane zones, tornado alleys, and areas where fires are common. Visa surveyed small business owners to learn about the impact of natural disasters. The findings showed that businesses needed approximately $850,000 on average to rebuild their businesses after a natural disaster. With numbers like that, it is easy to see why so many never reopen.

As a response to these shocking statistics, Visa created a program called “The Visa Back to Business Project.” This program is designed for small businesses that see a loss of revenue after a natural disaster. Since nearly all businesses lose revenue after a natural disaster, this program could become a factor in re-establishing a way of life for not only businesses but their employees and those who frequent these establishments.

To help disaster-affected businesses, Visa shares their statuses in a database so consumers can support them. This support can come from anywhere in the country. Interested consumers simply search for a business here. Consumers can search for specific disasters, or they can choose a type of business to support. The current list includes businesses affected by floods, fires, snow storms, and severe storms. When possible, Visa includes the website of the affected business so consumers from all over the world can offer support.

It is appropriate that Visa launched this program during National Preparedness Month. With hurricane season in full force, it is a good idea for all businesses to take time to prepare for natural disasters. Whether your business is in an area that gets an excessive amount of snow or is prone to flooding, now is the perfect time to prepare for what could happen by creating a disaster plan. Hopefully, you will never have to use your plan, but there is nothing wrong with being prepared. No one expects a disaster will happen to them, but when it does they are grateful for having flood insurance, emergency procedures, or their data stored in a secure cloud server. It is better to be proactive and prepared than to try to follow through after a disaster. There are several tips for disaster preparation here.

Authored by: Kristen Bentley, Reporter,