Randy ShumwayIdaho has a thriving economy that should continue to grow at a relatively steady pace for a considerable length of time barring any disruptions.

But what would happen if Idaho experienced an unexpected disaster on the home front? Is our economy and infrastructure strong enough to handle external shocks?

With the recent flooding in Texas, earthquakes in Australia, and onslaught of the ZIKA virus in South America, we are reminded that disaster can strike in myriad places and ways. Fortunately, Idaho has developed a specific state emergency preparedness plan that outlines what is to be done in the event of disaster.

The hazards that would cause the greatest loss of life and damage in excess of $1 billion in Idaho include floods, wildfires, and earthquakes. According to Idaho’s 2015 Emergency Preparedness Plan, the state is most at risk for wildfire disruption, cyber disruption, and flooding. Other disasters could be detrimental to the state’s economy, such as avalanches, volcanic eruptions, extended loss of electricity, internet or cell phone connectivity, or a severe epidemic. By potentially ruining buildings, roads, infrastructure, and access to utilities, disasters such as earthquakes and wildfires would create the highest degree of physical disruption to personal and business life in Idaho.

Idaho’s Emergency Preparedness Plan dictates that first responses are to be administered on a local level. Increased assistance follows order of jurisdiction, beginning with municipal assistance, and moving up through county, state, and federal assistance. Idaho has divided training for emergency preparedness into five specific areas: prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery. The military and different state agencies take part in training and planning for natural disasters.

Local organizations educate staff and volunteers to assist in case of emergency. For example, the American Red Cross in Idaho is prepared to respond with food and shelter whenever and wherever disaster strikes. They bring neighbors together to care for each other, and they teach people life-saving skills.

Idaho is in good hands in terms of physical preparation. It is also important to prepare for a technological disaster, which could have devastating effects on Idaho’s economy. The Idaho National Laboratory has been actively working to ensure power grid cyber security for years. The Idaho National Laboratory owns 111 miles of transmission and distribution grid on which it can run tests and mock cyberattacks. It can then provide facts to the community to help plan disaster responses. Extended loss of power in a region could be catastrophic because all other sectors of the economy depend on electricity. Power outages or downed cell phone towers during business hours could cause billions of dollars of lost productivity and revenue.

To safeguard against potential loss from any type of disaster Idaho could face in the coming years, it is essential to our economic vitality to have measures in place. Idaho has statewide plans to mitigate disasters, but it is equally important for individuals and businesses to create their own plans to minimize the effects of exogenous shocks on our economic system.

Consumer Confidence. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index® decreased 2.1 points to 92.6 in May. The Present Situation Index decreased 4.2 points to 112.9, and the Expectations Index decreased 0.7 points to 79.0.

Housing Market. In April, the CoreLogic® Home Price Index (HPI) for Idaho, which measures home price appreciation, experienced a year-over-year increase of 7.5%.  Nationally, the HPI increased 6.2% during the same period.

Job Report. Idaho’s unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percentage point to 3.7% in April, and the national unemployment rate decreased 0.3 percentage point to 4.7% in April.

Inflation. The U.S. Consumer Price Index increased 0.5% from March to April. Year over year, the index increased 1.1%, which is below the Federal Reserve’s target annual inflation pace of 2%.