Recover from natural disasters

Use these resources to guide your planning ahead of a natural disaster. They are designed to help you rebuild your business after a natural disaster.

On this page

What does recovering from a disaster involve?

The main focus areas to begin recovery are:

  • business viability
  • business premises
  • equipment
  • records
  • business financials
  • staff and suppliers.

Develop a recovery plan as part of your business continuity plan to help your business recover and resume trading more quickly.

Refer to your existing business continuity plan or use our template to help you develop a plan now.

Thumbnail of business continuity planning Word template

Download the business continuity plan template

This template includes a recovery plan section.

Use this page to consider how you rebuild from a natural disaster and complete these sections of the template.

Download the business continuity planning template.

Consider the viability of your business after a natural disaster

While many businesses reopen and operate successfully after a natural disaster, some do not.

Business viability is important to check as the costs involved in rebuilding plus potential impacts on customers and suppliers may prevent the business from achieving future profits and cash flow.

Accounting body CPA Australia provides tools, templates and advice to help you consider viability after an event at what to do immediately after a disaster.

You may decide not to continue with the business in its current form or, if the business is insolvent, continue to trade.

Other options may include:

  • converting your business model to online only
  • merging with another business or taking on an equity partner who is able to provide continuity and cash flow
  • selling the business
  • outsourcing operational functions for a period of time to one or more businesses away from the disaster area
  • closing the business.

Support after a natural disaster

Find resources and information on:

Re-establishing business premises, equipment and records

Depending on your preparation and the impact of the natural disaster, you may be able to reopen after a short time.

Reopening strategies depend on the nature of the disaster (e.g. a flood affecting part of the premises and equipment versus a bush fire burning down the business premises entirely).

Reopening will also depend on customers' and suppliers' ability to access your business, or your ability to reach and deliver to them.

You may need to establish your business at other premises for a period of time. This could include:

  • at your home
  • at a co-working space or serviced office
  • leasing another premises
  • sub leasing part of a warehouse from another business.

Find industry information about recovering from natural disasters and emergencies on the Small business disaster hub, including:

The following information and resources can help you assess business premises and replace records and equipment.

Rebuilding your financial position

The natural disaster will most likely affect your cash flow as your ability to trade normally has been interrupted.

If your balance sheet indicates you have a current ratio of more than 1, you should be in a position to pay what you currently owe, but you may need to sell some assets, which would take time.

Contact your accountant to:

  • identify how long you can continue to pay staff and creditors before your business would be trading insolvently
  • identify if or when you would need to lay off staff
  • develop a plan to pay creditors on payment plans where possible
  • develop a communication plan.

Additional advice and assistance

Once you have dealt with the immediate situation and sourced assistance from advisors and support services, you may need to take action on your business model, products, and services. For example, you may need to:

Supporting and rebuilding staffing

Supporting and rebuilding your staff is just as important as any other part of the recovery process.

Staff will need support as they work with you during any clean up and recovery stages

Support can be given to staff by:

  • providing additional communication
  • referral to support services such as Beyond Blue and Lifeline
  • involve them in team meetings to work together for business product and service redesign.

If staff need to vary work arrangements, such as working from home or a different location, additional communication support should be provided with regular online meetings.

Need new staff?

These resources help you:

  • find and hire the right people to help your business succeed
  • meet your legal obligations.

Find out more about hiring and recruitment.

Communicating

Communicating with your suppliers and customers will help rebuild your business so you can begin operating as soon as possible.

Key areas to communicate with your customers and suppliers are:

  • when you will re-open
  • where you are operating from now
  • when you can take new orders
  • when you will be able to start deliveries again.

Communication methods could include:

  • your business social media sites
  • your business website
  • community social media groups/forums
  • specific disaster groups on social media within your region
  • signs at your physical premises
  • regional radio
  • local papers
  • community notice board
  • school and community groups.

Also consider...