Are You Ready For a Disaster?

As Hurricane Sandy powers toward the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, lines at grocery stores and gas stations are snaking around corners and down the block. Are you ready for a natural or man-made disaster? Many of us in the Washington region remember the threat of dirty bombs following 9-11 and the recommendations to put in a place a family emergency plan including extra supplies, mutually agreed upon meeting places and a family plan for evacuation.
But what if you are an arts or humanities organization or an individual artist or scholar? What can you do to be prepared? has a list of 12 Readiness Must Haves which you can find below. You may also want to check out Montgomery County’s suggestions by clicking here. If the storm hits Montgomery County, the AHCMC offices maybe closed. To contact us email:
1. Your Phone Tree – Document a way to contact your immediate stakeholders (staff/board/artists/webmaster) post crisis. Include their cell phones and personal email addresses as alternative ways to contact them; diagram the order of contact to minimize duplication of efforts.
2. Your In‐Case‐of‐Emergency Contact List – Have your people tell you two emergency contacts, one who might be nearby to answer immediate questions (health, allergies, etc.) and one who lives further away and might serve as a safe harbor in the case of a community‐wide evacuation.
3. Your Crisis Communications Plan – Identify who is authorized to speak to the media and the general public about your organization post‐crisis, how they will communicate/message your situation, and also set a goal for the time frame in which your organization would release a statement.
4. Your Important Account Numbers – Know contact information and account/policy numbers for your bank, insurance company, utilities/telecommunications providers, security/alarm companies and building maintenance.
5. Your Up‐To‐Date Insurance – Make sure you update your policy(ies) annually so you have enough, and the right type, of coverage. Talk to your agent or visit to determine what types of liability, property, event and other insurance you should have in place.
6. Your Old‐fashioned Credit Card Slide and Carbon Paper– Process payments even when the power goes out, the phone line gets disconnected, or the website goes down.
7. Your 360° view – Video/photograph the state of your facilities, equipment and collections before an emergency, and keep a camera onsite so you can present post‐crisis images/footage before anyone else does ‐ good for “before/after” contrast to provide your insurance company, and for including in future appeals for donations with your constituents.
8. Your Documented Refund Policy ‐ Train your people to manage cancellations and less‐than‐optimal event conditions. Make sure this policy is shared with your visitors in printed materials and electronic communications or on your website.
9. Your Standard Contingency Clause ‐ Include this clause in all contracts or see how you can negotiate to make the language in an existing contract match your standard contingency clause more closely to prevent misunderstandings post‐crisis.
10. Your Alternative Facilities/Equipment List ‐ Pre‐determine one or more locations that could serve as alternative facilities for your business and/or what alternative resources you could use. Could your people work remotely? Would your event work in a different space or given different equipment?
11. Your Alternative Staff Structure document – Delegate key responsibilities and train alternate people in the event that one of your key people become incapacitated (e.g. payroll processing, authorized signatories on official documents and checks etc.)
12. Your Commitment – Readiness planning requires training and ongoing updates to your information. Additionally, it requires electronic (backed‐up) copies and hard copies. Cover your bases. Be ArtsReady.


• USE PHONES ONLY FOR EMERGENCIES. Call 911 only for life-threatening situations.
• Call police or utility companies immediately to report hazards such as downed power lines, broken gas or water mains or overturned gas tanks.
• For downed trees on public property, call 311 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays (or 240-777-0311 from outside the County or from a cell phone) or go to at any time to report the problem.
• For non-emergency police assistance, call the police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000.
Important Utility Numbers:
• Pepco: 1-877-737-2662
• Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E): 1-877-778-2222 or 1-800-685-0123
• Potomac Edison (Allegheny Power): 1-800-255-3443
• Washington Gas: 800-752-7520
• WSSC: 1-800-828-4002
For more information about emergency preparedness, go to the County website,, check the County’s Facebook page, or sign up to receive County tweets from Twitter,!/MontgomeryCoMD.