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Building Materials Stores - Help Prepare for Natural Disasters

Posted by Brandon Weaver | Mon, Jul 06, 2015 @ 10:30 AM

With or without warning, Mother Nature’s disasters can be very devastating to human life and the economy. Emergency crews and government agencies often help people prepare for and recover from natural disasters. 

Dare we say building supply companies are the unsung heroes of natural disasters? You’re called upon to provide the necessary materials and aid before and after an event occurs. 

Obviously, you do not hope for a catastrophic event, but the nature of your business demands that you be prepared on behalf of your community. 

Earthquakes: America on Shaky Ground 

With CrossCheck’s headquarters in Northern California, we are certainly no stranger to the San Andreas Fault and the potential for earthquakes. Just last August, the South Napa earthquake in beautiful wine country was the largest to hit the bay area since the 1989 Loma Prieta catastrophe. Napa officials estimate this earthquake cost $300 million to homes and business in the city of Napa alone. That number does not take into account damage to public buildings, the wine industry, or general economic losses – which the USGS estimates total cost to be upwards of $1 billion. 

This interactive United States fault line map shows the age of each fault line. The West coast lives on the shakiest ground with multiple danger zones but the rest of the country has its fair share of hot and cold zones as well. 


In advance of a disaster, stocking products that are part of an earthquake survival kit may give you up-sell opportunities. You can sell complementary items like portable radios, batteries, fire extinguishers, rope, tarps, and matches. 

After a disaster, people can apply for federal aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) but not everyone that applies is granted financial assistance because each circumstance is different.  After the Napa quake, federal money was made available to some homeowners to recover.

Tornadoes: Right In the Thick of It 


The Midwest has its very own, exceptionally spectacular type of destructive force. Readers in that part of the country may want to look out their windows right now because at the time of this article’s publishing, there’s a near-maximum probability of a tornado striking some Midwest community.  


Optimally, you’d sell emergency supplies in advance. Portable generators, gas leak protectors, wheelbarrows, cots and beds, and many more supplies are needed in case the worst happens. For a good example of tornado emergency kit, look at what Grainger provides. 

One of the most devastating tornadoes in recent memory occurred in Oklahoma City in 2013 with an estimated $2 billion in property damage, as you can see in this photo. Besides the juxtaposition of destruction and hope, what sticks out the most? 

The only walls standing with a flag attached to the roof. Experts say tornado-proof homes are probably not worth the expense – as much as 20 percent more in construction costs than the average home. 

But today, some homeowners plan ahead by building safe rooms fortified to withstand winds up to 250 miles per hour. Stan Peterson of the American Institute of Architecture suggests homeowners build and fortify a safe room. Safe rooms generally cost $2,000 - $5,000. This is particularly intriguing for check payments considering consumers will pay by check in 1 out of 5 purchases when the dollar amount exceeds $100. 


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Hurricanes: 5 Categories of Devastation 

Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 – November 30 and storm severity is ranked on the Saffir-Simpson 5-Category wind scale. 


Just because the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a below-normal 2015 Atlantic hurricane season, does that mean you should discount hurricanes as a threat? No, because the Pacific Hurricane region has a 70% chance being above normal. (For a video simulation of each hurricane category click the image above and scroll down the page a bit.) 

When it comes to famous hurricanes, Katrina (Category 5) may get the lion’s share of attention because it caused $47 billion worth in damage. But even the lowest, Category 1 storms demand the same level of preparedness — which may be an opportunity for your building supply store. 

Destruction and recovery are the common denominators with every natural disaster.

Natural disasters present hope and rebuilding opportunities because when disaster strikes, part of your role in the building materials industry is to guarantee people’s safety with the necessary supplies. 

You have your community’s back, so you need someone covering you, as well. Adding a check guarantee service to your operations is a smart way to prevent unpaid, returned checks. Check guarantee allows you to approve checks at your point of sale, over the phone, or via the Internet. 

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Topics: Building Materials

Written by Brandon Weaver