After 35 years of surveying the aftermath of floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, FEMA executive-turned-disaster-response consultant Ken Burris has learned a thing or two.
One of them is not to store expensive items at flood level.
“Hospitals tend to put their most expensive equipment, imaging equipment, in the basement,” said Burris, whose D.C.-based consultancy has represented dozens of hospitals struggling to recover from the likes of Hurricane Katrina and Sandy. “Those sub-basement floors flood quickly. The largest loss in the hospital industry happens to be that type of equipment. It gets into hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Burris teamed with former Federal Emergency Management Agency director James Lee Witt to create a private crisis management and disaster-response firm that helps communities and companies recover from nature’s hazards. In December, Witt Associates merged with O’Brien’s Response Management, a Louisiana-based crisis and emergency management firm that was a unit of Seacor Holdings, to form Witt O’Brien’s.