Entries in Disaster Plans (1)


Disaster Plans for the Wealthy, Courtesy of the Madoff Family

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Catherine Hooper is an expert in handling disasters and survival.

In 2008, just weeks after she was engaged to Andrew Madoff, his father, Bernie Madoff, was arrested for running the largest Ponzi scheme in history -- defrauding investors out of billions of dollars.

Now Hooper is the president of Black Umbrella, a high-end disaster management company based in New York City, and her fiance, Andrew, is director of operations.

And business is booming. Hooper said calls to Black Umbrella have increased 300 percent since the earthquake and tsunami disaster struck Japan last week.

"I think that a lot of people had this item on their to-do list for a long time," she said. "When you see a terrible tragedy like this, this is what pushes them to face their anxiety about thinking through this strategy and start making that plan."

Hooper's company puts together crisis management packages for all sorts of disasters -- for a hefty price. Packages range from $750 to $2,000, which she agreed was not cheap. The majority of her clients are families with small children.

Hooper admitted her company's services are a bit of a luxury.

"This is something most families can do by themselves," she said. "I'm delighted if they want to hire me, but I think that it's something everyone should do, regardless if they have professional help or not."

The $750 package includes a full consultation with a planning expert who offers a detailed communication plan and mapped escape routes, as well as a "Go Bag" -- a ready-to-go disaster bag with some unexpected items, such as giant black Sharpie marker.

"What this does for you, in a real emergency, is give you the ability to leave a message anywhere and on any surface," she said. "If you were somehow dislocated from your family and you needed to leave a note on your door -- 'gone to grandma's' -- this could be a great emergency tool."

Other items included are eye goggles, a PVC raincoat, batteries, a first aid kit, a radio -- and four aluminum, personalized, emergency contact cards. Hooper added the PVC raincoat protects the user from radiation and, she said, could be the difference between life and death in radiological emergencies, like the nuclear meltdown in Japan.

For $1,450, clients get two extra cards, data storage for important documents and full disaster drill with an expert. The most expensive package, which is $2,000, gives clients all that plus one year of unlimited cards, practices and consultations with Black Umbrella's experts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio