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Roundtable to discuss disaster planning

During Hurricane Katrina, many local businesses took financialhits that could have been avoided, and the Small BusinessRoundtable for June is aimed at preparing them for next time.

The forum, which takes place Friday, June 27, will be led byJosh Smith of Insurance and Risk Management, who will help smallbusiness owners take precautions against natural disasters in thefuture.

“Josh will be discussing ways businesses can protect themselvesand their income in the event of hurricanes or other disasters,”said Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield.

Brumfield said attendees of the first two roundtable meetingsrequested that disaster preparation and insurance be a discussiontopic, as many of them were affected by the troubles duringKatrina.

“Participating small business owners thought this wouldparticularly apply as we enter hurricane season,” Brumfieldsaid.

Smith said he’s definitely prepared to speak on the topic. Itwon’t all be about insurance, either, but will also touch on easymeasures that can be taken in lieu of insurance.

“We’re going to go over hurricane and emergency preparedness,and ways they can prepare to be financially sound in case ofemergencies,” Smith said.

Brumfield said there are things people can do to help in timesof power loss, water shortage, extreme heat, and the like, and thatSmith would be able to address those issues as well.

“He specializes in crisis management before the crisis,”Brumfield said.

Smith said one of the hardest-hitting issues of Katrina in thesouthern Mississippi area stemmed from income loss while the areawas incapacitated by the water and fuel shortage and energyoutage.

“A lot of people after Katrina came to me about financial loss,even though their property was not damaged,” he said. “But theystill would have suffered a financial loss because nobody could getto their stores because of the gas situation.”

But there are ways to combat the outages, Smith said.

“If you have lost power, water and gas, that’s very expensive toinsure,” he said. “For instance it makes better sense for you totalk to your local electrician and have a generator, just incase.”

On the other hand, however, insurance is an option.

“If you lost power to your small business, you can have thatperil insured, but it’s very expensive,” he said. “You can buy whatwe call loss of utilities endorsement in