Is Your Business Ready for Hurricane Season?
You know the old saying, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst?”, we believe that being ready to respond to any emergency, threat, or natural disaster is an important part of running successful businesses. We know it can be difficult to even think about hurricane season with everything else that’s going on in the world, but meteorologists predict that the 2020 hurricane season is going to be tough.
The 2020 Hurricane Season Forecast
According to researchers and meteorologists, the Atlantic hurricane season, beginning June 1, 2020, is expected to be very active. Predictions indicate that 16 named storms (tropical and subtropical), 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes (category 3 or higher) are likely to develop from June to November. The annual average over the last 30 years is 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes, so this year is expected to be higher than average in all areas. While named storms and hurricane numbers may be higher this year, it’s important to remember that this does not necessarily mean all of them will make landfall or do significant damage. However, with a high number of storms predicted, businesses that may be affected should be ready to respond.
How COVID-19 Will Impact Hurricane Preparedness
We’ve all had to make adjustments for the past several months in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, so it will come as no surprise that your disaster preparations will need to be adjusted to consider potential COVID-19 exposure risks during evacuations. Not to mention the increased health and safety hazards related to post-hurricane clean up. Here are a few recommendations for you to consider:
- If your Business Continuity Plans (BCP) have changed due to the pandemic and a threat of a hurricane, take extra measures to communicate those changes to the appropriate team member.
- Increased sanitary provisions may be needed due to the aftermath of a hurricane, so continue to follow the CDC guidelines for individuals and facilities.
- Take inventory of critical vendors that you may need to call on in the event of a hurricane and discuss what additional measures they are taking during the pandemic.
Planning for Hurricane Safety
When selecting your disaster security provider we recommend considering if they have the capacity to support your business security needs before, during, and after severe weather events. We also recommend steps you can take to protect yourself, your business, and your employees if the worst should happen. To get ready for the 2020 hurricane season, you should have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place that includes the following items:
- Safety planning – be prepared to meet evacuation, sheltering in place, and other advisory orders. You should always err on the side of caution and take safety steps as soon as possible.
- Protect Your Business Data & Systems – most modern businesses rely on computers and information technology (IT) networks to run smoothly. Make sure you have procedures in place to save and backup your data in case of an emergency. You should also have security plans in place for the network and physical facilities to keep your business safe.
- Plan for Damage Response – even an inch or two of water can cause significant damage to your business facilities, and that’s without even taking the more serious hurricane threats like high winds and hail into account. Make sure you’re ready to address potential damage quickly by having a disaster response plan and budget in place before you need it. Think through as many of the possible issues as you can and be ready to respond.
- Prepare for Continued Business – part of your planning should be identifying the most critical aspects of your business and determining how and if you should be prepared to continue doing business before, during, and after severe weather events. You know your business well, so just take a little time to determine which functions need to continue ASAP and which can be on hold a little longer.
- Keep Your Facility Safe – board up windows, get items that can be damaged off the floor if there’s a flood risk, and take other steps to protect your business facilities. In addition to taking steps to prevent damage to structures, you should also check your insurance coverage to make sure there is severe weather coverage available to repair or replace items that are damaged.
- Stay Informed – pay attention to the latest reports and information from local weather teams and authorities, so you’re ready to respond as soon as possible.
Protecting Your Business During a Hurricane
During a hurricane or other severe weather event, our best advice is – follow the recommendations of authorities to ensure your safety and that of your employees. You can also plan to keep your employees and customers informed about your status with updates via text messages, email blasts, social media posts, and press releases throughout severe weather events. The more clarity you can offer the better to put your customer’s and employee’s minds at ease during a potentially scary time.
Repairing Your Business After a Hurricane
If you’re prepared before the hurricane strikes, you should be ready to get back to business after severe weather passes. After severe weather you should:
- Only return to your business when it’s deemed safe by authorities.
- Do not walk or drive through floodwaters.
- Take care to avoid dangerous debris like downed powerlines.
- Take pictures of all damage, contact insurance adjusters, and file claims before you begin the cleanup.
- If possible, remove smaller debris like tree limbs.
- Clean up the property after insurance claims have been filed.
- Take appropriate steps to protect your business from additional damage after the storm.
- Complete restoration projects that are essential for safety and small repairs right away.
- When it’s safe, reopen and start doing business again even if you have to function at limited capacity until all repairs are made.
Choose Your Security Provider Wisely
No matter what your security needs, finding a reputable and honest provider is key. We encourage you to ask for prior Hurricane Coverage reports to determine if that specific provider is a fit for your organization. We have experience partnering with businesses and communities during disasters, including:
- 2005 Hurricane Katrina – we mobilized 100’s of officers to go into the affected areas as well as surrounding cities of New Orleans for several weeks.
- 2008 Hurricane Ike – the storm had generated tremendous wind damage throughout the greater Houston market and even into Louisiana leaving tens of thousands of homes and businesses without power. We successfully deployed 100’s of off duty officers for extensive periods of time.
- 2012 Ohio & West Virginia Storms – more than 450,000 homes and businesses were without power. A financial institution with locations across Ohio and West Virginia contacted us for security, which we were able to provide within 5 hours for the Ohio sites and within 8 hours for the West Virginia branches.
- 2012 Superstorm Sandy – we partnered with several local businesses to prepare days before the storm hit and ride out the storm alongside them. We also provided additional resources after Sandy made landfall. For eight weeks, we provided 24/7 services for numerous local businesses.
- 2017 Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey – we were able to provide off duty officers from outside the affected states of Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, which was essential as the local officers and security personnel were overtaxed by the high demand. Our officers were recruited through our law enforcement connections across the country. Every two-man team was entirely self-sufficient throughout their stay in local areas.