It's always the same question, "Are we ready?" Over the years I've heard it from the media, from elected officials, from CEO's, from non-profit groups - just about everyone. Most recently I was asked the question by a member of the audience as I was briefing on a plan I had helped develop for a religious institution. My answer is always the same, "Ready for what?"
Emergency planning is more art than science and merely developing an emergency plan doesn't mean you're ready for anything. There will be certain events that you can handle and there will those of such magnitude that it requires national intervention. So the question, "Are we ready?" is essentially meaningless.
A better question is, "Are we better prepared than we were?" This is a question I can answer by telling you what has been done and what you plan to do in the future. It gets to the truth behind emergency preparedness: it's a process of continuous improvement, not an end result. Becoming fixated on a particular product or result (if we do X, then we will be ready) leads you to a false sense of security once you achieve that result.
The simple fact is that you're never going to be completely prepared - that's why we call them disasters. Instead, strive to be just a bit better prepared through small, achievable projects. Focus on the basics that are often overlooked, such as inventorying your assets or identifying critical business functions. Consider simple mitigation measures in your home or business. Take community emergency response team (CERT) or other survival skill training.
Take care of the small things and you'll be surprised at how much better prepared you'll be.