• Steps to Take Five Days Before a Hurricane Strikes
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Steps to Take Five Days Before a Hurricane Strikes

July 04, 2019

No matter how prepared you are, here are some last minute to-dos that can help save your business.

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Picture this: You’re enjoying your morning coffee when you receive a weather alert. A hurricane will likely impact your city and therefore, your business. By the time you make it into the office, it’s all anyone is talking about. Before you know it, people are in your office, asking you, “What’s the plan?”

Business continuity (BC) planners are known for being methodical when considering risk vs. reward, for starting early and creating plans that require equal parts science, art and experience. However, it’s easy to put off planning for the distant ‘what if’ future and think, ‘Today is not the day an emergency will end my business.’

“I’ve seen it before,” says Ed Schlichtenmyer, StormGeo’s Senior Manager for Business Continuity. “It’s easy to lose sight of something that likely won’t happen tomorrow or even next month. In fact, most businesses can survive decades without suffering as much as a power outage. But it’s not realistic to expect that. Today’s forward-thinking business leaders are considering every possibility when it comes to business disruption.”

Ed Schlichtenmyer

Ed Schlichtenmyer

A thorough and robust business continuity plan can take months to create and even years to refine. There are many moving parts to consider: evacuation options, remote working facilities, back-up communications, offsite storage, vendor agreements, HR functions, non-standard payroll and many more details.

While waiting until a storm threat has been received is certainly not a best practice for preparedness, there are several things a business can do to protect its operations and employees at the ‘last minute.’ Schlichtenmyer adds, “Even though hurricane season has already officially started, there are plenty of things that can still be done to protect yourself and your business.”

When asked what he would do if he found himself facing a hurricane without an established BC plan, Schlichtenmyer says his focus would be communication. “If I had only five days to prepare for a hurricane impact, ensuring there was full transparency and a flow of information would be key.”

Plans will vary based on an organization’s location, size, industry and people, but this plan should serve as a framework to get you started.

Last-Minute Hurricane Safety Plan

  1. Personnel Locations: Work with department heads to find out where personnel are planning to be over the next five days.
    a. Consider halting any travel plans
    b. Personnel may need to be temporarily relocated
    c. Determine where each employee resides so that pertinent evacuation, rescue or damage information can be gathered and distributed
  2. Project Status: Work with department heads to find out what work must be completed in the next five days.
    a. Helps determine when to release personnel
    b. Helps to establish evacuation criteria
    c. Helps to establish what is needed from vendors (who may also be shutting down or evacuating)
  3. Communicate: Send a message to personnel that includes:
    a. Storm details
    b. What the company is doing
    c. What the employee should do
    d. Where the employee can get additional information (ready.gov is a good source)
    e. When the next message will be sent
  4. Monitor: Local agencies (Schools, County, Police, Transportation, etc.) typically share their actions and recommendations via the news and Twitter.
  5. Document: Record everything you did in this emergency so that you can jump-start the real response planning before the next emergency.

In addition to these steps, Chris Hebert, StormGeo’s lead hurricane forecaster, recommends contracting the services of a professional weather organization that is focused on your business’ needs and sensitivities and will forecast for your specific location(s). “People don’t realize that the National Hurricane Center’s primary responsibility is public safety,” says Hebert. “Issuing advisories and warnings for the general population across broad areas can present challenges to individuals and businesses. It’s unfortunate, but your business is not their concern. Having expert meteorologists providing timely, site-specific and potentially life-saving information that applies to your property, your assets, your business and your employees is invaluable.”

StormGeo works with clients to provide objective support to their response plans—calculating the thresholds for determining both the current phase of the plan, as well as when they will move on to the next phase. This type of detailed, client-specific service can take time to setup. For businesses finding themselves a week away from a major weather event, there is still time to establish site-specific, timely, accurate weather forecasting services. Sign up is easy and can be done with just a phone call.

StormGeo TropicsWatch Meteorologists:

1(877) 792 3220