Experts Offer Disaster Planning Advice Before Bird Flu and Hurricane Season Strikes United States

May 4, 2006
Panel discussion stresses the importance of preparation

Citing the feared outbreak of Avian flu in the United States, disaster-planning experts at the CoreNet Global Summit of corporate real estate executives on April 26, 2006, urged companies to prepare for the next 9/11 or the next Hurricane Katrina.

At a panel entitled, “Hurricanes, Fires, and Blackouts - Oh My! Best Practices in Disaster Planning,” industry leaders cited best practices instituted before recent natural calamities and urged commercial property owners and tenants to establish processes in order to mitigate human and economic losses, and to respond effectively in the midst of a natural or manmade disaster.

In preparation for the 2005 hurricane season, Jones Lang LaSalle’s Intl. Director Bruce Ficke convinced its customer, American Financial Realty Trust (AFRT), to “be a little more prepared” for the storm season to come.

It wasn’t a hard sell. With over 1,100 buildings in the Southeast region, AFRT’s Chris Lindberg determined that “something will hit us somewhere” and deployed a Jones Lang LaSalle Web-based tool to help protect AFRT’s considerable bank assets in the region. The proprietary software product helped AFRT with planning, safety, compliance, and preparation for what became Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and helped stem what would have been much more severe property losses from those storms.

Ficke and Lindberg urged other property owners and tenants to adopt disaster plans for their businesses, communicate openly and clearly up and down the decision chain, lock in fuel vendors, practice disaster plans frequently, and consider the human factor when disaster strikes.

Ian Marlow, president of Gale Global Facilities, Florham Park, NJ, which prepares clients for being “in the eye of a storm,” also has recommendations for businesses with critical systems. Marlow recommends redundant communication systems, including Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), satellite phones, and simple “phone trees,” to easily locate geographically displaced colleagues during disasters.

With the possibility of an Avian flu pandemic spreading in the United States, Ficke urged businesses to begin planning for the possibility of large numbers of employees working at home for 2 weeks at a time. He recommends ensuring that “there is enough technology to enable work, that access to the building is restricted, and that surfaces are sanitized” to prevent the flu from spreading as much as possible.

This information was provided by Atlanta-based CoreNet Global, an organization whose members manage $1.2 trillion in worldwide corporate assets consisting of owned and leased office, industrial, and other space. To find about more about CoreNet Global, visit ( or call (404) 589-3200.

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