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Business Continuity Planning Suite

If you need more help getting a business or organization prepared, please use the new Business Continuity Planning Suite (ZIP Archive – 13 Mb: PC Compatible) developed by DHS’ National Protection and Programs Directorate and FEMA.

This software was created for any business with the need to create, improve, or update its business continuity plan. The Suite is scalable for optimal use by organizations of any size and consists of a business continuity plan (BCP) training, automated BCP and disaster recovery plan (DRP) generators, and a self-directed exercise for testing an implemented BCP. Businesses can utilize this solution to maintain normal operations and provide resilience during a disruption.

Business Continuity Planning Suite

  1. Download and EXTRACT the Business Continuity Planning Suite (BCPS) (ZIP Archive – 13 Mb: PC Compatible)
  2. Once downloaded, EXTRACT the Business Continuity Planning Suite file and click “START_NOW.”
  3. Step-by-Step Instructions for BCPS Installation (PDF-1.2 Mb)

Learn about the Tools

The BCP training component of the Suite is a 30 minute video-based course, which examines the importance of BCP, provides an overview on BCP, and prepares users to write their own plans. It is broken into three segments:

  1. What is business continuity planning?
  2. Why is business continuity planning important?
  3. What is the business continuity planning process?

Upon completion of the training, users should possess a basic understanding of BCP, the process of completing a BCP, and the motivation to complete their own plan using the Suite’s BCP Generator.

The Suite’s BCP and DRP Generators, developed to guide businesses through writing BCP and DRP plans, possess an overall functionality similar to automated tax preparation tools. The BCP Generator builds a plan that guides a company through any disruption to normal operations, while the DRP Generator focuses on developing a plan specific to recovery of information technology systems. A Save and Exit option in both Generators enables users to complete their plans in increments, and a Print option enables users to produce and save hard copies.

The final component of the BCP Suite, a self-directed exercise for testing an implemented BCP, allows users to test their newly implemented business continuity and disaster recovery plans. This Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program compliant table top exercise focuses on a business’ recovery efforts following selected business disruptions intended to represent a broad spectrum of threats including hurricane, earthquake, ice storm, and blackout. The goal of the exercise is to improve a business’ overall recovery capabilities and actions and the collective decision making process. It is designed to be an open, thought-provoking exchange of ideas to help develop and expand existing knowledge of policies and procedures within the framework of an organization’s BCP implementation.

Business Continuity Video Training

Business Continuity Training – Introduction

An overview of the concepts detailed within this training. Also, included is a humorous, short video that introduces viewers to the concept of business continuity planning and highlights the benefits of having a plan. Two men in an elevator experience a spectrum of disasters from a loss of power, to rain, fire, and a human threat. One man is prepared for each disaster and the other is not.

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Business Continuity Training – Part One
What is Business Continuity Planning?

An explanation of what business continuity planning means and what it entails to create a business continuity plan. This segment also incorporates an interview with a company that has successfully implemented a business continuity plan and includes a discussion about what business continuity planning means to them.

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Business Continuity Training – Part Two
Why is Business Continuity Planning Important?

An examination of the value a business continuity plan can bring to an organization. This segment also incorporates an interview with a company that has successfully implemented a business continuity plan and includes a discussion about how business continuity planning has been valuable to them.

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Business Continuity Training – Part Three
What is the Business Continuity Planning Process?

An overview of the business continuity planning process. This segment also incorporates an interview with a company about its process of successfully implementing a business continuity plan.

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Business Continuity Training – Part Three
What is the Business Continuity Planning Process?
Step 1: Prepare

The first of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “prepare” to create a business continuity plan.

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Business Continuity Training – Part Three
What is the Business Continuity Planning Process?
Step 2: Define

The second of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “define” their business continuity plan objectives.

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Business Continuity Training – Part Three
What is the Business Continuity Planning Process?
Step 3: Identify

The third of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “identify” and prioritize potential risks and impacts.

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Business Continuity Training – Part Three
What is the Business Continuity Planning Process?
Step 4: Develop

The fourth of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “develop” business continuity strategies.

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Business Continuity Training – Part Three
What is the Business Continuity Planning Process?
Step 5: Teams

The fifth of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should define their “teams” and tasks.

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Business Continuity Training – Part Three
What is the Business Continuity Planning Process?
Step 6: Test

The sixth of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “test” their business continuity plans.

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Business Continuity Plan

Business Continuity Planning Process

When business is disrupted, it can cost money. Lost revenues plus extra expenses means reduced profits. Insurance does not cover all costs and cannot replace customers that defect to the competition. A business continuity plan to continue business is essential. Development of a business continuity plan includes four steps:

  • Conduct a business impact analysis to identify time-sensitive or critical business functions and processes and the resources that support them.
  • Identify, document, and implement to recover critical business functions and processes.
  • Organize a business continuity team and compile a business continuity plan to manage a business disruption.
  • Conduct training for the business continuity team and testing and exercises to evaluate recovery strategies and the plan.

Information technology (IT) includes many components such as networks, servers, desktop and laptop computers and wireless devices. The ability to run both office productivity and enterprise software is critical. Therefore, recovery strategies for information technology should be developed so technology can be restored in time to meet the needs of the business. Manual workarounds should be part of the IT plan so business can continue while computer systems are being restored.

Resources for Business Continuity Planning 

Business Continuity Impact Analysis

Business continuity impact analysis identifies the effects resulting from disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.

The Operational & Financial Impacts worksheet can be used to capture this information as discussed in Business Impact Analysis. The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers with sufficient knowledge of the business. Once all worksheets are completed, the worksheets can be tabulated to summarize:

  • the operational and financial impacts resulting from the loss of individual business functions and process
  • the point in time when loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts

Those functions or processes with the highest potential operational and financial impacts become priorities for restoration. The point in time when a function or process must be recovered, before unacceptable consequences could occur, is often referred to as the “Recovery Time Objective.”

Resource Required to Support Recovery Strategies

Recovery of a critical or time-sensitive process requires resources. The Business Continuity Resource Requirements worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers. Completed worksheets are used to determine the resource requirements for recovery strategies.

Following an incident that disrupts business operations, resources will be needed to carry out recovery strategies and to restore normal business operations. Resources can come from within the business or be provided by third parties. Resources include:

  • Employees
  • Office space, furniture and equipment
  • Technology (computers, peripherals, communication equipment, software and data)
  • Vital records (electronic and hard copy)
  • Production facilities, machinery and equipment
  • Inventory including raw materials, finished goods and goods in production.
  • Utilities (power, natural gas, water, sewer, telephone, internet, wireless)
  • Third party services

Since all resources cannot be replaced immediately following a loss, managers should estimate the resources that will be needed in the hours, days and weeks following an incident.

Conducting the Business Continuity Impact Analysis

The worksheets Operational and Financial Impacts and Business Continuity Resource Requirements should be distributed to business process managers along with instructions about the process and how the information will be used. After all managers have completed their worksheets, information should be reviewed. Gaps or inconsistencies should be identified. Meetings with individual managers should be held to clarify information and obtain missing information.

After all worksheets have been completed and validated, the priorities for restoration of business processes should be identified. Primary and dependent resource requirements should also be identified. This information will be used to develop recovery strategies.

Recovery Strategies

If a facility is damaged, production machinery breaks down, a supplier fails to deliver or information technology is disrupted, business is impacted and the financial losses can begin to grow. Recovery strategies are alternate means to restore business operations to a minimum acceptable level following a business disruption and are prioritized by the recovery time objectives (RTO) developed during the business impact analysis.

Recovery strategies require resources including people, facilities, equipment, materials and information technology. An analysis of the resources required to execute recovery strategies should be conducted to identify gaps. For example, if a machine fails but other machines are readily available to make up lost production, then there is no resource gap. However, if all machines are lost due to a flood, and insufficient undamaged inventory is available to meet customer demand until production is restored, production might be made up by machines at another facility—whether owned or contracted.

Strategies may involve contracting with third parties, entering into partnership or reciprocal agreements or displacing other activities within the company. Staff with in-depth knowledge of business functions and processes are in the best position to determine what will work. Possible alternatives should be explored and presented to management for approval and to decide how much to spend.

Depending upon the size of the company and resources available, there may be many recovery strategies that can be explored.

Utilization of other owned or controlled facilities performing similar work is one option. Operations may be relocated to an alternate site – assuming both are not impacted by the same incident. This strategy also assumes that the surviving site has the resources and capacity to assume the work of the impacted site. Prioritization of production or service levels, providing additional staff and resources and other action would be needed if capacity at the second site is inadequate.

Telecommuting is a strategy employed when staff can work from home through remote connectivity. It can be used in combination with other strategies to reduce alternate site requirements. This strategy requires ensuring telecommuters have a suitable home work environment and are equipped with or have access to a computer with required applications and data, peripherals, and a secure broadband connection.

In an emergency, space at another facility can be put to use. Cafeterias, conference rooms and training rooms can be converted to office space or to other uses when needed. Equipping converted space with furnishings, equipment, power, connectivity and other resources would be required to meet the needs of workers.

Partnership or reciprocal agreements can be arranged with other businesses or organizations that can support each other in the event of a disaster. Assuming space is available, issues such as the capacity and connectivity of telecommunications and information technology, protection of privacy and intellectual property, the impacts to each other’s operation and allocating expenses must be addressed. Agreements should be negotiated in writing and documented in the business continuity plan. Periodic review of the agreement is needed to determine if there is a change in the ability of each party to support the other.

There are many vendors that support business continuity and information technology recovery strategies. External suppliers can provide a full business environment including office space and live data centers ready to be occupied. Other options include provision of technology equipped office trailers, replacement machinery and other equipment. The availability and cost of these options can be affected when a regional disaster results in competition for these resources.

There are multiple strategies for recovery of manufacturing operations. Many of these strategies include use of existing owned or leased facilities. Manufacturing strategies include:

  • Shifting production from one facility to another
  • Increasing manufacturing output at operational facilities
  • Retooling production from one item to another
  • Prioritization of production—by profit margin or customer relationship
  • Maintaining higher raw materials or finished goods inventory
  • Reallocating existing inventory, repurchase or buyback of inventory
  • Limiting orders (e.g., maximum order size or unit quantity)
  • Contracting with third parties
  • Purchasing business interruption insurance

There are many factors to consider in manufacturing recovery strategies:

  • Will a facility be available when needed?
  • How much time will it take to shift production from one product to another?
  • How much will it cost to shift production from one product to another?
  • How much revenue would be lost when displacing other production?
  • How much extra time will it take to receive raw materials or ship finished goods to customers? Will the extra time impact customer relationships?
  • Are there any regulations that would restrict shifting production?
  • What quality issues could arise if production is shifted or outsourced?
  • Are there any long-term consequences associated with a strategy?

Resources for Developing Recovery Strategies

Manual Workarounds

Telephones are ringing and customer service staff is busy talking with customers and keying orders into the computer system. The electronic order entry system checks available inventory, processes payments and routes orders to the distribution center for fulfillment. Suddenly the order entry system goes down. What should the customer service staff do now? If the staff is equipped with paper order forms, order processing can continue until the electronic system comes back up and no phone orders will be lost.

The order forms and procedures for using them are examples of “manual workarounds.” These workarounds are recovery strategies for use when information technology resources are not available.

Developing Manual Workarounds

Identify the steps in the automated process – creating a diagram of the process can help. Consider the following aspects of information and work flow:

Internal Interfaces (department, person, activity and resource requirements)

  • External Interfaces (company, contact person, activity and resource requirements)
  • Tasks (in sequential order)
  • Manual intervention points

Create data collection forms to capture information and define processes for manual handling of the information collected. Establish control logs to document transactions and track their progress through the manual system.

Manual workarounds require manual labor, so you may need to reassign staff or bring in temporary assistance.

Business Impact Analysis

A business impact analysis (BIA) predicts the consequences of disruption of a business function and process and gathers information needed to develop recovery strategies. Potential loss scenarios should be identified during a risk assessment. Operations may also be interrupted by the failure of a supplier of goods or services or delayed deliveries. There are many possible scenarios which should be considered.

Identifying and evaluating the impact of disasters on business provides the basis for investment in recovery strategies as well as investment in prevention and mitigation strategies.

Consider the Impact

The BIA should identify the operational and financial impacts resulting from the disruption of business functions and processes. Impacts to consider include:

  • Lost sales and income
  • Delayed sales or income
  • Increased expenses (e.g., overtime labor, outsourcing, expediting costs, etc.)
  • Regulatory fines
  • Contractual penalties or loss of contractual bonuses
  • Customer dissatisfaction or defection
  • Delay of new business plans

Timing and Duration of Disruption

The point in time when a business function or process is disrupted can have a significant bearing on the loss sustained. A store damaged in the weeks prior to the holiday shopping season may lose a substantial amount of its yearly sales. A power outage lasting a few minutes would be a minor inconvenience for most businesses but one lasting for hours could result in significant business losses. A short duration disruption of production may be overcome by shipping finished goods from a warehouse but disruption of a product in high demand could have a significant impact.

Conducting the BIA

Use a BIA questionnaire to survey managers and others within the business. Survey those with detailed knowledge of how the business manufactures its products or provides its services. Ask them to identify the potential impacts if the business function or process that they are responsible for is interrupted. The BIA should also identify the critical business processes and resources needed for the business to continue to function at different levels.

BIA Report

The BIA report should document the potential impacts resulting from disruption of business functions and processes. Scenarios resulting in significant business interruption should be assessed in terms of financial impact, if possible. These costs should be compared with the costs for possible recovery strategies.

The BIA report should prioritize the order of events for restoration of the business. Business processes with the greatest operational and financial impacts should be restored first.

 Information Technology Disaster Recovery Plan

Business Disruption Scenarios

  • Physical damage to a building buildings
  • Damage to or breakdown of machinery, systems or equipment
  • Restricted access to a site or building
  • Interruption of the supply chain including failure of a supplier or disruption of transportation of goods from the supplier.
  • Utility outage (e.g., electrical power outage)
  • Damage to, loss or corruption of information technology including voice and data communications, servers, computers, operating systems, applications, and data
  • Absenteeism of essential employees

IT Disaster Recovery Plan

Businesses use information technology to quickly and effectively process information. Employees use electronic mail and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone systems to communicate. Electronic data interchange (EDI) is used to transmit data including orders and payments from one company to another. Servers process information and store large amounts of data. Desktop computers, laptops and wireless devices are used by employees to create, process, manage and communicate information. What do you when your information technology stops working?

An information technology disaster recovery plan (IT DRP) should be developed in conjunction with the business continuity plan. Priorities and recovery time objectives for information technology should be developed during the business impact analysis. Technology recovery strategies should be developed to restore hardware, applications and data in time to meet the needs of the business recovery.

Businesses large and small create and manage large volumes of electronic information or data. Much of that data is important. Some data is vital to the survival and continued operation of the business. The impact of data loss or corruption from hardware failure, human error, hacking or malware could be significant. A plan for data backup and restoration of electronic information is essential.

Resources for Information Technology Disaster Recovery Planning

IT Recovery Strategies

Recovery strategies should be developed for Information technology (IT) systems, applications and data. This includes networks, servers, desktops, laptops, wireless devices, data and connectivity. Priorities for IT recovery should be consistent with the priorities for recovery of business functions and processes that were developed during the business impact analysis. IT resources required to support time-sensitive business functions and processes should also be identified. The recovery time for an IT resource should match the recovery time objective for the business function or process that depends on the IT resource.

Information technology systems require hardware, software, data and connectivity. Without one component of the “system,” the system may not run. Therefore, recovery strategies should be developed to anticipate the loss of one or more of the following system components:

  • Computer room environment (secure computer room with climate control, conditioned and backup power supply, etc.)
  • Hardware (networks, servers, desktop and laptop computers, wireless devices and peripherals)
  • Connectivity to a service provider (fiber, cable, wireless, etc.)
  • Software applications (electronic data interchange, electronic mail, enterprise resource management, office productivity, etc.)
  • Data and restoration

Some business applications cannot tolerate any downtime. They utilize dual data centers capable of handling all data processing needs, which run in parallel with data mirrored or synchronized between the two centers. This is a very expensive solution that only larger companies can afford. However, there are other solutions available for small to medium sized businesses with critical business applications and data to protect.

Internal Recovery Strategies

Many businesses have access to more than one facility. Hardware at an alternate facility can be configured to run similar hardware and software applications when needed. Assuming data is backed up off-site or data is mirrored between the two sites, data can be restored at the alternate site and processing can continue.

Vendor Supported Recovery Strategies

There are vendors that can provide “hot sites” for IT disaster recovery. These sites are fully configured data centers with commonly used hardware and software products. Subscribers may provide unique equipment or software either at the time of disaster or store it at the hot site ready for use.

Data streams, data security services and applications can be hosted and managed by vendors. This information can be accessed at the primary business site or any alternate site using a web browser. If an outage is detected at the client site by the vendor, the vendor automatically holds data until the client’s system is restored. These vendors can also provide data filtering and detection of malware threats, which enhance cyber security.

Developing an IT Disaster Recovery Plan

Businesses should develop an IT disaster recovery plan. It begins by compiling an inventory of hardware (e.g. servers, desktops, laptops and wireless devices), software applications and data. The plan should include a strategy to ensure that all critical information is backed up.

Identify critical software applications and data and the hardware required to run them. Using standardized hardware will help to replicate and reimage new hardware. Ensure that copies of program software are available to enable re-installation on replacement equipment. Prioritize hardware and software restoration.

Document the IT disaster recovery plan as part of the business continuity plan. Test the plan periodically to make sure that it works.

Data Backup

Businesses generate large amounts of data and data files are changing throughout the workday. Data can be lost, corrupted, compromised or stolen through hardware failure, human error, hacking and malware. Loss or corruption of data could result in significant business disruption.

Data backup and recovery should be an integral part of the business continuity plan and information technology disaster recovery plan. Developing a data backup strategy begins with identifying what data to backup, selecting and implementing hardware and software backup procedures, scheduling and conducting backups and periodically validating that data has been accurately backed up.

Developing the Data Backup Plan

Identify data on network servers, desktop computers, laptop computers and wireless devices that needs to be backed up along with other hard copy records and information. The plan should include regularly scheduled backups from wireless devices, laptop computers and desktop computers to a network server. Data on the server can then be backed up. Backing up hard copy vital records can be accomplished by scanning paper records into digital formats and allowing them to be backed up along with other digital data.

Options for Data Backup

Tapes, cartridges and large capacity USB drives with integrated data backup software are effective means for businesses to backup data. The frequency of backups, security of the backups and secure off-site storage should be addressed in the plan. Backups should be stored with the same level of security as the original data.

Many vendors offer online data backup services including storage in the “cloud”. This is a cost-effective solution for businesses with an internet connection. Software installed on the client server or computer is automatically backed up.

Data should be backed up as frequently as necessary to ensure that, if data is lost, it is not unacceptable to the business. The business impact analysis should evaluate the potential for lost data and define the “recovery point objective.” Data restoration times should be confirmed and compared with the IT and business function recovery time objectives.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Disaster Recovery Assistance

 

The U.S. Department of Labor and 15 other federal agencies partnered with FEMA to create DisasterAssistance.gov, which consolidates information about federally-funded government assistance to disaster victims.

DisasterAssistance.gov will help users to:

  • Identify the forms of assistance and qualification requirements
  • Allow users to check the status of their applications online
  • Provide information about forms of assistance available through other agencies that do not have online applications at this time

Users can register on the website to apply for individual assistance and Small Business Administration loans.

In the event of natural disasters, the Department of Labor support includes income and job assistance as well as key announcements.

For general questions and assistance, contact the Department of Labor’s National Contact Center at 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365).

Severe Storm and Flood Recovery Assistance

 

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) assists in recovery efforts in the communities affected by severe storms, floods, and other disasters. For general questions and assistance, please contact DOL’s National Contact Center at 1-866-487-2365.

Department of Labor support includes the following income and job assistance:

  • DOL’s National Contact Center
    1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365)
  • Unemployment Insurance (UI)
    The Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program provides unemployment benefits to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own.
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
    DUA provides financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster declared by the President of the United States and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.
  • National Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs)
    Impacted states can apply for DWG funds that can be used to create temporary employment opportunities to assist with cleanup and recovery efforts.
  • Occupational Safety and Health
    The Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) makes technical assistance and resources available to help protect those participating in cleanup and recovery efforts. Call OSHA toll-free at 1-800-321-6742 with any questions.
    • Learn how to keep workers safe during cleanup and recovery operations following hurricanes.

Cleanup & Recovery

Please review these OSHA fact sheets on natural disaster recovery:

Service Contract Act
The Service Contract Act (SCA), which generally applies to federal or District of Columbia contracts for clean-up activities following a disaster, requires contractors and subcontractors performing services on prime contracts in excess of $2,500 to pay service employees in various classes no less than the wage rates and fringe benefits found prevailing in the locality, or the rates (including prospective increases) contained in a predecessor contractor’s collective bargaining agreement.

Davis-Bacon Regulations for Federal Contractors
The Davis-Bacon Act requires all contractors and subcontractors performing work on federal or District of Columbia construction contracts or federally assisted contracts in excess of $2,000 to pay their laborers and mechanics not less than the prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits for corresponding classes of laborers and mechanics employed on similar projects in the area. In addition to the Davis-Bacon Act itself, Congress has added prevailing wage provisions to approximately 60 statutes which assist construction projects through grants, loans, loan guarantees, and insurance. These are referred to as “Related Acts.”

  • Recording Hours Worked
    Download the DOL Timesheet App to record the number of hours you have worked and calculate the amount you may be owed by your employer.

Public Service Announcements

News

DOL Guidance For Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)

Office of Foreign Labor Certification

Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)

Additional Resources

FEMA.gov

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards. Individuals in declared counties can register online for disaster assistance at www.disasterassistance.gov or call FEMA’s toll-free registration line at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362); for the hearing impaired TTY 800-462-7585.

Ready.gov

Ready.gov explains what actions to take when you receive a hurricane watch or warning alert from the National Weather Service for your local area. It also provides tips on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.

USA.gov

USA.gov is providing a one-stop page for hurricane-related information from federal agencies.

Benefits.gov

As the official benefits website of the Federal government, Benefits.gov provides citizens with easy, online access to over 1,000 government benefit and assistance programs from 17 partner agencies.

DisasterAssistance.gov

The mission of DisasterAssistance.gov is to ease the burden on disaster survivors by helping them apply for disaster assistance from 70 programs at 17 federal agencies.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Hurricane Michael will affect several southeastern states. Maps and tables are available for hurricane flood zones that may impact businesses.