As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, Hurricane Laura is bearing down on Louisiana and Texas potentially bringing along with it severe damage and potentially a lives lost. Keep in mind that in 2019, AccuWeather said that more than $22 billion in hurricane-related damages were reported which this year has the potential to surpass.
Your company's first priority in a hurricane incident is the same as any other natural disaster that comes barreling through your workplace: your safety and the safety of your staff and customers.
How do you successfully achieve this: develop a plan ahead of time by keepin this checklist handy to get into hurricane-ready preparedness:
First, know where you stand (and where you are standing).
Familiarize yourself with your property and its surroundings. See if you can detect where the potential threats may occur in the case of a hurricane (flood zones, weak roofs, walls or windows, and elevation level). Are there any levees or dams nearby?
Educate your staff and customers.
Ahead of time, share all relevant information using a multi-channel mass notification system so that they have access to lifesaving knowledge. This could avoid chaos, confusion, miscommunication, scrambling, and most importantly, loss of life. Consider distributing evacuation and emergency shelter information using these resources:
Coordinate your plan specifically for every stage of the hurricane.
A hurricane is not just one single event. Procedures should include how to deal with a hurricane leading up to and following the actual storm. These include:
- Normal posture
- Hurricane watch: looking out for a possible hurricane.
- Hurricane warning: a hurricane is definitely coming.
- Following an evacuation order
- During the storm
- Aftermath: Both before and after power and water are restored
Make sure your plan includes the following action items:
- Emergency contact list: keep it continually updated.
- Mass notification system: make sure you have a reliable multi-channel solution with the ability to receive feedback from message recipients
- Hurricane shelter policy: will you put up shutters before a potential storm to protect your property? When will you take them down?
- Property insurance: know what it covers — and what it does not.
- Property records: backup and store them on the cloud. These could include leases and legal documents. If they’re on paper, store them in a safe, dry place.
- Storage space: establish a designated space for post-hurricane debris and damage. This way, you can begin to recover in an organized manner.
- Alternative office space: your command center may have to switch to higher ground.
- Evacuation orders: be prepared to have little or no staff if an evacuation order is enacted. Demanding that employees stay around despite the evacuation order is illegal, and it endangers the welfare of your staff.
- Special-needs employees: plan and communicate how you will help any employees with special needs.
- “Cleanup” vendors: well in advance, arrange a plan with the vendors and services that will help you clean up your property. If you wait too long, it may be too late for them to help you — they will likely be booked.
- “All clear:” determine how and when to communicate the “all clear” call to employees when it is officially safe for them to return to the property.
- Schedule a meeting: during the “hurricane watch” phase, share all emergency-related information. On the day after the storm, utilize a mass notification system with a conference call integration to share the latest news, information about damage, the assessment procedure and to field questions.
- Loose objects: remove or secure any objects that may cause damage during the storm: garbage cans, electronics, TVs, etc.
- Drains and downspouts: make sure all drains and downspouts are clear of debris and any other obstructions.
- Line of credit: securing this ahead of time can help pay for any repairs that may exceed your reserve fund or insurance claim.
Unfortunately, forecasters expect an “above average” hurricane season this year. USA Today reports that meteorologist Phil Klotzbach and other experts from Colorado State University – among the nation's top seasonal hurricane forecasters – predict 16 named tropical storms will form, eight of which will become hurricanes. An average season has 12 tropical storms, six of which are hurricanes. In 2019, there were 18 named storms, six of which were hurricanes.