Complete Your Written Hurricane Plan – Hurricane Preparedness Week

Rochelle Brittingham

Storm - Complete Your Written Hurricane Plan - Hurricane Preparedness Week

Preparing for disasters is just as important for business as individuals, as many families’ livelihoods can depend on a business keeping its doors open. Business continuity planning often focuses on IT and data preservation for good reason, but think through all aspects with some of the many resources available online and through emergency management offices in your state.

 

Every business should go through planning steps to be prepared. Investing effort into a preparedness program can save time and money in the long run. But once a plan is in place, don’t forget to test it. Testing identifies crucial gaps in planning as well as determining what just doesn’t work. Because – let’s face it – it’s easier to fix problems and make improvements without a hurricane bearing down on you.

 

Items one should potentially keep in mind while planning:Trim Trees - Complete Your Written Hurricane Plan - Hurricane Preparedness Week

  • Does everyone have everyone else’s contact information?
  • What if people can’t get to the office? Can people work from home in certain instances?
  • Are certain people responsible for securing equipment or doing particular tasks? Do they know it’s their responsibility?
  • Have you done a site search on things that could damage your business or infrastructure (e.g. are tree branches away from the roof and power lines)?
  • Are there supplies available to board up windows or keep water from breaching the structure(s)?
  • Does it make sense to have agreements in place with other companies in order to help your business out if assistance is needed? Power companies come to one another’s aid when damage is extensive. Do you have companies you would rely on to help you get back on your feet?

 

While some environmental planning requirements may touch on natural hazards (e.g. SPCC), best practices can go beyond legal requirements. For instance, EPA has begun to provide guidance on considering climate change in remedial design. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection – Site Remediation Program will shortly be releasing a new guidance document titled Planning for and Response to Catastrophic Events at Contaminated Sites. This guidance (which includes content written and developed by Brownfield Science and Technology’s Nicholas Santella) discusses planning to increase the resilience of operations at remediation sites in the face of catastrophic events.

 

Write a Plan - Complete Your Written Hurricane Plan - Hurricane Preparedness WeekFinally, businesses should encourage their employees to make a plan. Employees should plan on having items that address their specific needs, such as medications or other personal requirements. Going through the process of planning helps people to decide what they need to have with them if they are required to evacuate, as well as if they needed to shelter-in-place. Planning also serves a dual purpose when employees discuss with their families what supplies are needed at home and what needs to be taken to work to prepare for being cut-off from daily services.

 

For more resources on planning for a hurricane, visit NOAA online:

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/news/160404_hurricane_prepare.html

 

 
Rochelle Brittingham PhD, MPA is an expert in emergency management with a focus on planning for the needs of people with disabilities or access and functional needs during disasters. She has over 10 years of experience in social work, grant writing and community outreach. Currently, she is employed at the University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies. She is also a Delaware Community Emergency Response Team instructor.

 

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Assemble Disaster Supplies – Hurricane Preparedness Week

Rochelle Brittingham

 

Hurricane Sandy - Assemble Disaster Supplies - Hurricane Preparedness Week
Photo courtesy of R. Brittingham and the Disaster Research Center (University of Delaware). Fire damaged blocked assess after Hurricane Sandy in the Far Rockaways.

 

Every business needs to be stocked and ready.

 

 

It is important to have disaster supplies available year-round.

The days leading up to hurricane landfall allow for businesses, as well as employees, to finish obtaining supplies and getting items that may be more specific to certain needs (as discussed in FEMA’s Emergency Preparedness documents), but waiting until last minute may be too late. There is no telling how long regular services will be disrupted and what sort of damage an area may experience. Being caught unaware or unprepared can cost a company time and money.

 

 

Hurricane Sandy 2 - Assemble Disaster Supplies - Hurricane Preparedness Week
Photo courtesy of R. Brittingham and the Disaster Research Center (University of Delaware). Disrupted infrastructure in the Far Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy.

Test your emergency equipment before it is needed.

Businesses that have ride out crews – crews that remain to ensure critical infrastructure continues functioning during a hurricane at such businesses as refineries, chemical plants, etc. – may be more likely to ensure disaster supplies are on hand year-round for unexpected disaster events. Critical infrastructure and services that should not go down during disasters, such as powering flood control measures, rely on redundant systems and back-ups. Generators become crucial to keeping important electrical functions running during power outages (as experienced during the power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy) and should be tested ahead of time for days, not just a few hours. Murphy’s law says a generator isn’t going to fail during the first few hours; if it fails, it’s going to fail on day two of a four-day event without power.

 

 

Be prepared for a company sleepover.

For other businesses that find they may not usually need to have crews available to oversee infrastructure, businesses should still evaluate whether they are prepared to have employees shelter-in-place at the work location. There needs to be enough supplies on hand for everyone, and business owners need to be able to communicate with their employees. A company may unexpectedly face the possibility that employees are unable to get home safely due to flooding or find employees are unable to travel back and forth to work due to impassable roads. In cases like that, having supplies on hand is critical to remaining operational.

 

 
Rochelle Brittingham PhD, MPA is an expert in emergency management with a focus on planning for the needs of people with disabilities or access and functional needs during disasters. She has over 10 years of experience in social work, grant writing and community outreach. Currently, she is employed at the University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies. She is also a Delaware Community Emergency Response Team instructor.

 

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