Is This the Year for the Big One?

Hurricane Preparedness for a Company or Business

Last week, I was traveling and went through a small Florida city. Standing on the courthouse lawn was a sign that said, “Hurricane Season starts in 18 days”. The countdown is on. Are you ready if the big one hits this year? Because of the weather and early spring storms, there is some anticipation that this will be a stormy season. Brokers are reviewing coverage with their insureds, risk managers are reviewing their contingency plans, adjusters are setting up their response teams and restoration companies, along with contractors are checking equipment and positioning resources where they can be mobilized easily.

As property owners, we all really need to have our written plans in place – especially in areas where hurricanes prowl. Plans are what will allow us to respond responsibly, not panic, and try to figure out what to do after it happens. Some of the items that should be considered:

  • How do we monitor storms that are affecting our areas? A subscription to a service or rely on local weather forecasts for our information?
  • As a company, do we have a written “up-to-date” contingency plan with phone numbers and e-mail addresses of important resources that we will need to prep for the storm or respond after the storm hits?
  • Do we have an agreement in place with a restoration company or contractor that will help us get back in operation? Do they have the resources to handle us and others in the area after the storm hits?
  • Do we have a backup site for electronics or even for ongoing operation if we are shut down?
  • Are our buildings able to handle the potential weather that might strike our area? What do we need to do now to be prepared?
  • Do we have any backup communication devices to use if the cell system goes down? Sometimes local suppliers are up and running before the national carriers.
  • Do we have planned evacuation routes for our staff, customers, patients and guests? Hospitals are much more complicated to plan for evacuation in comparison to manufacturing plants.
  • Food, water, essentials may be difficult to find – do we have a pre-storm supply?
  • Are other parts of your company reliant on your operation? If you are down, can they continue to operate? You must consider the entire operation, not just your department or function.

Make sure you have access to your written plan. It’s not helpful if it’s stored in an area that you can’t get to. Several copies should be created and distributed to various key people.

We all presume the big one is far into the future, and it never will be as bad as it is predicted. However, Katrina was a mild storm, but who figured the levies would break? Ike was a minimal wind storm, but water came out of the shipping channel and electricity was lost which affected all of the greater Houston area. Sandy was going to be big – then died – then came into Lower Manhattan, flooding basements everywhere. Matthew started in south Florida, jumped to northern Florida, bounced to Georgia and came into the South Carolina/North Carolina border area. Some were lucky…some were hit.   

It isn’t just the wind to bear in mind, but the track of the storm, the area surrounding your property, intensity and duration that can cause the overall affect. Take a look around, you might be surprised by the enemies around you. Spending a few dollars now to be prepared can save you thousands of dollars if the storm hits. Take the time to BE PREPARED!