Flood risks pose significant challenges to businesses in the U.S. and around the globe.  The majority of the world's population lives in close proximity to the coast or major inland waterways, so many homes and businesses are at risk for this type of disaster.  Major storms and flood disasters have the potential to destroy property, take lives and cripple businesses.  FEMA estimates that over 40% of businesses that experience a significant disaster do not reopen.

How do I Protect my Business? 

Identify your Risks 

The first step to being prepared is to identify and understand your risks. 

  • Are your facilities located in flood zones?
  • When planning on building a new location, review potential sites for flood risk.
  • If building in a flood zone is necessary, be sure to locate key electrical and mechanical equipment above grade level, with additional flood protection such as pitched drains and sump pumps.

Create a Plan 

Once you have identified that a property is at risk for flooding, a Flood Emergency Response Plan (FERP) should be developed.  The plan should:

  • Designate a person in charge.  The FERP Coordinator should have authority to initiate the plan and to direct resources before, during and after the emergency.
  • Identify key personnel who have FERP responsibilities.
  • Develop a communication method (such as a phone chain) to alert employees of incoming storms or impending floods.  The communications should also alert key personnel to be on stand-by for flood preparation actions.
  • Create procedures to shut down equipment and processes in a safe manner.

Click here for more tips on how to create a Flood Emergency Response Plan. 

Preparing - Before the Flood 

Mitigate damage and protect your property by taking the following pre-flood precautions:

  • The FERP coordinator should closely monitor storms to assess the need and appropriate timing to activate the plan.
  • Notify key employees when potential storms are being tracked to ensure their availability.
  • Assemble key materials and supplies.
  • Fill all fuel tanks, such as vehicles, emergency generators and fire pumps.

Click here for more information on preparing your business prior to a flood.

Actions - During the Flood  

The safety of all employees who remain on-site must be top priority:

  • Do not attempt to move or service wet electrical equipment.
  • Do not go outside in periods of heavy rain, lightning or during other hazardous conditions.  Floods are often accompanied by high winds so be aware of falling trees and flying debris.
  • Shelter in-place within the building, above the grade level, and in an internal room with no windows.
  • If authorities order evacuation, leave the facility immediately.  DO NOT STAY under any circumstances.

Recovery - After the Flood 

Once flood waters subside and the site is safe, the company should begin to assess damage and start salvage efforts.  The following steps should be considered:

  • Be aware of downed power lines or other hazards caused by the storm.  Report any outages or damage to the utility companies.
  • Repair damaged fire protection equipment.
  • Communicate with contractors regarding repair work as their services may be in short supply following a major storm event.
  • Clean drains and roofs of debris.

Click here for additional tips on what to do after a flood. 

HUB Risk Services can assist you in development of a location specific plan.  Please contact your regional HUB Risk Services Consultant for more information.