Local businesses prep for natural disasters after earthquake, Irene threat

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For those who worked at M. Dumas and Sons, a clothing store on King Street, during Hurricane Hugo in 1989, they say it's something they'll never forget.

But something they never think about is earthquakes.

"Earthquakes never really happen here," Daniel Lash, store employee, said.

But earthquakes are a threat to the Charleston area, and acknowledging both natural disasters was one goal at a planning expo sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. The other goal was making sure business owners have a plan if either would hit.

"So often the business owner doesn't understand all the cleanup that can be involved in getting the business back to work," Joseph Stringer, an insurance broker, said.

Stringer said 43 percent of businesses involved in a natural disaster never recover.

For better odds, experts recommend electronically backing up business records, having a plan for temporary relocation, and keeping communication with customers.

But of course business owners aren't the only ones at risk during a natural disaster.

Experts say they want everyone to be prepared because earthquakes in the Lowcountry can be worse here than elsewhere in the U.S.

"We're on all these sediments, and when you shake them, the waves get bigger," Erin Beutel, geology professor at the College of Charleston, said.

Beutel also said there are more than 800 bridges in the tri-county area, and if a major quake hit, it could take up to five days for help to arrive.