Disaster Preparation


Storm Preparation

Preparing your business for a disaster is critical. Would it continue if a hurricane made landfall tomorrow or a fire struck? Check out these resources to ensure your business is always prepared.

Bay County Emergency Management

The Emergency Management Division is responsible for performing technical work in the development, implementation, and management of countywide disaster prevention, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation activities. Division staff provide countywide planning, training and exercise programs in order to be prepared for natural, technological, and/or man-made emergencies. In addition, staff manage and coordinate the County’s Emergency Operations Center during times of emergency.

24 hour phone: 850.784.4000


Get alerted about emergencies and other important community news by signing up for AlertBay. This system enables us to provide you with critical information quickly in situations such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods.

You will receive time-sensitive notifications wherever you specify, such as your home and/or office via mobile or business phones, email address, text messages and more. You pick where, you pick how.


The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity offers an interactive business preparedness toolkit, critical disaster updates from the State Emergency Operations Center and a Business Damage Assessment Survey to help businesses get back up and running after an emergency. FloridaDisaster.Biz is a partnership between the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Other partners include the U.S. Department of Commerce, Florida State University’s Center for Disaster Risk Policy, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Florida Retail Federation, VISIT FLORIDA, the Florida SBDC Network and others.

National Hurricane Center

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is a component of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) located at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. The NHC mission is to save lives, mitigate property loss, and improve economic efficiency by issuing the best watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of hazardous tropical weather and by increasing understanding of these hazards. The NHC vision is to be America’s calm, clear, and trusted voice in the eye of the storm and, with its partners, enable communities to be safe from tropical weather threats.

Get prepared!

The National Hurricane Center offers resources on their website to help prepare you and your family for and emergency situation including checklist and tracking resources.

Create your disaster plan!

Could your business serve customers tomorrow if a hurricane made landfall today? You can use the free COOP software to write a continuity of operations plan for your business. Start writing your plan today and help our economy recover quickly in the aftermath of a disaster. Visit Bay County’s Emergency Management Website for more information.

Disaster Recovery

The first few days following a storm can be overwhelming. It is important to remain calm and ensure your personal safety, first. The following things should be considered most important above all else:

  1. If you are in a public shelter, remain there until informed by those in charge that it is safe to leave. 
  2. Keep tuned to your local radio or television station, or county Emergency Services social media and website pages, for advice and instructions from local government about emergency medical, food, housing and other forms of assistance.
  3. Stay where you are as long as it is safe to do so. This is the quickest way for you to be found and assisted should you need it.
  4. If you have the ability to do so, contact your loved ones to inform them of your safety via a brief phone call, post to social media, or through American Red Cross at www.safeandwell.org.
  5. Stay out of disaster areas which could be dangerous and where your presence will interfere with essential rescue and recovery work. Do not use the telephone except for rescue, serious injuries or emergency. 
  6. Do not drive unless you must. Roads should be left clear for emergency vehicles and debris filled streets are dangerous. Along the coast, soil may be washed from beneath the pavement or bridge supports, which could collapse under the weight of a car. 
  7. Avoid loose or dangling wires and report them to your power company or local fire department. Report broken sewer, gas or water mains to the appropriate utility company or service authority.
  8. Prevent fires. Do not use candles. Do not place fuel or generators in included areas. Check buildings for possible collapse before re-entry.
  9. Hurricanes moving inland can cause severe flooding. Stay away from river banks and streams until all potential flooding is past. 
  10. If power has been off, check refrigerated food for spoilage. Do not use tap or well water until you are sure it is not contaminated. 

Natural disasters can be devastating but the recovery process for does not have to be. The following steps can help guide individuals on what they need to do to begin the recovery process.

  1. Contact your insurance agent as quickly as possible. Let your agent know your losses. If you are relocated temporarily, let your agent know your temporary address. 
  2. Make only those repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your home or business. This should include covering breaks in a roof, wall or windows with plywood, canvas or other waterproof material. Do not have permanent repairs made without first consulting your agent. Unauthorized repairs may not be reimbursed.
  3. Wait for an insurance adjuster to arrive to appraise your damage. Insurance companies schedule adjusters so the most serious catastrophic loses get priority treatment. Those policyholders are the most in need.
  4. Keep all receipts for expenditures you have made to repair damage or to estimate the extent of your damage.
  5. Prepare a detailed inventory of all damages or destroyed personal property for the adjuster. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself. Your list should be as complete as you can make it and include: a description of the item (and number, if more than one); date of purchase or approximate age; cost at the time of purchase; and estimated replacement cost today. 
  6. Collect canceled checks, invoices or other papers that will assist the adjuster in obtaining the value of the destroyed property.
  7. If you feel it necessary, secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs from a reliable, licensed and insured contractor and give it to the adjuster when he or she arrives. The estimate should contain detailed specifications of the proposed repairs, detailed repair cost prices and replacement prices.
  8. Take photos of damages areas. These will help you with the presentation of your claim and will assist the adjuster in the investigation.
  9. Even if your home or business furnishings look like “total losses,” do not get rid of them until after they have been examined by the adjuster. 
  10. If your vehicle has been damaged or submerged in a flood, move it to high ground and let it dry out. Do not attempt to start or operate the vehicle until thoroughly dry. 
  11. Wooden furniture should be cleaned as quickly as possible. Avoid rubbing in an abrasive such as ash, plaster or wallboard particles which have fallen on the furniture. 
  12. Your dry cleaning establishment can help you evaluate the cleaning or restoration costs for clothing, furs and draperies. 
  13. Metal objects, including firearms, drapery rods and the electric motors in home appliances, should be dried and rubbed or sprayed with oil to prevent corrosion. Radios, televisions and other electronic systems should also be dried but not oiled.


The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity offers an interactive business preparedness toolkit, critical disaster updates from the State Emergency Operations Center and a Business Damage Assessment Survey to help businesses get back up and running after an emergency. By registering your business, you can updated state and local officials as to the status of your business so that they can provided the resources needed to help get your doors back open. FloridaDisaster.Biz is a partnership between the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Other partners include the U.S. Department of Commerce, Florida State University’s Center for Disaster Risk Policy, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Florida Retail Federation, VISIT FLORIDA, the Florida SBDC Network and others.

Small Business Administration

Following a storm, the Small Business Administration, also known as SBA, works to assist businesses and homeowners alike. They offer low-interest disaster loans to help business owners, non-profits and homeowners in their recovery efforts. Those loans include US SBA Business Physical Disaster Loans, US Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Florida Small Business Bridge Loans, which could provide a loan amount up to $2 million.

US SBA Business Physical Disaster Loans are loans to businesses to repair or replace disaster-damaged property owned by the business, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. Businesses of any size are eligible. Private, non-profit organizations such as charities, churches, private universities, etc., are also eligible.

US Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are working capital loans that help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.

Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans are working capital loans intended to “bridge the gap” between the time of a major catastrophe and when a business has secured long-term recovery resources, e.g. receipt of payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance.

State and Federal disaster loans require that applicants have an acceptable credit history and demonstrate an ability to repay all loans. While credit score and credit history will be a factor in the credit decision, the primary factor will be the ability of the applicant to repay the loan per the loan agreement terms.

Business can get one-on-one assistance completing disaster loan applications at the business recovery center located at 625 Hwy 231, Panama City, FL 32401 or online at disasterloan.sba.gov.

SBA HUBZone Program

The government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses in historically underutilized business zones. It also gives preferential consideration to those businesses in full and open competition. Joining the HUBZone program makes your business eligible to compete for the program’s set-aside contracts. HUBZone-certified businesses also get a 10 percent price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions. HUBZone-certified businesses can still compete for contract awards under other socio-economic programs they qualify for.

State Assistance

FloridaDisaster.org is the division of the Florida State Emergency Response Team responsible for assisting those impacted by natural disasters. Their website offers a plethora of information regarding current conditions, financial assistance, recovery efforts and more.

Federal Assistance

Similar to the State’s efforts, federal assistance for those impacted by natural disasters is handled by FEMA. Their website offers information on recovery efforts, financial assistance and more.

Workforce Recovery

Employ Florida Disaster Recovery Jobs Portal

Employ Florida, one of the nation’s largest job search engines, has a website dedicated to helping job seekers find jobs related to disaster recovery and community cleanup efforts. This portal provides direct links to jobs available in areas across the state that were impacted by a natural disaster. As part of Employ Florida, the portal also provides many resources for job seekers and employers including resume writing assistance and links to education and training opportunities. Employers posing natural disaster-related job openings should register on Employ Florida and select the name of the disaster when posting the openings. Job seekers and employers can go to disasterrecovery.employflorida.com for more information.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available to Florida businesses and residents whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a result of a natural disaster. Workers can apply if they worked, were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment ad are not able to work to perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster. To file a DUA claim, go to FloridaJobs.org or call 800-385-3920. Customer service representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm EST and Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm EST to assist claimants. For DUA claims information, call 800-204-2418 and select the “speak to an agent” option to speak to a customer service representative.

Disaster Dislocated Worker Program

National Dislocated Worker Grants are awarded for temporary employment to workers affected by major dislocations, including natural disasters. Disaster relief employment can be in the form of temporary jobs to address structural and humanitarian needs of residents of an area that has suffered a federally declared emergency or major disaster. Disaster relief employment is restricted to projects that provide food, clothing shelter and other humanitarian assistance for disaster victims and projects that involve demolition, cleaning, repair, renovation and reconstruction of damaged structures and facilities. Individuals who qualify for disaster relief employment are people who are temporarily or permanently laid off as a consequence of the disaster, dislocated workers and individuals who are long-term employed. For information regarding National Dislocated Worker Grants, visit www.careersourcegc.com.

Labor Market Information

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity provides Labor Shed reports, which are a high-level summary of employment, demographics and commuting patterns in a specified area. These reports assist businesses and local officials in understanding potential impacts of natural disasters as they relate to employment, demographic and commuting trends when implementing local recovery efforts. These reports may be found at www.floridajobs.org. DEO also produces a map allowing businesses and local officials to see the availability of active job seekers who possess skills needed for recovery efforts in their area. The map can be found at lmsresources.labormarketinfo.com.