Forecasters expect this year’s Atlantic hurricane season to be especially active.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting 13 to 19 named storms between June and October, which will include as many as six to 10 hurricanes, three to six of which they expect to be Category 3 to 5 storms, with at least 111 mph winds.1 The summer wildfire season will begin soon after and storms and earthquakes loom large year-round.

Add COVID-19 stay-at-home and social distancing orders to these and now evacuating and re-locating homes and offices have taken on a whole new meaning. The potential for a compound disaster, or two or more disaster events creating additional and increasingly complex response and recovery challenges, is very real.

Preparing your business for a compound disaster

If your business has the potential to be impacted by a compound disaster – a wildfire and COVID-19, or a hurricane and COVID-19, etc., preparation will be key, says the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In their COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season document, FEMA urges businesses to create an emergency response and business continuity plan now to minimize the impact of a compound disaster to business operations and maximize the ability to recover quickly.

Here's what should be included:

  1. Define your business’ critical functions. What are the critical functions your business needs to have up and running during and immediately after a disaster event? Think: HR, finance, IT, manufacturing and more. If a disaster event caused your business to slow down or temporarily stop, how long would it take to ramp back up? What resources would be required to do so and how long would it take? Examine every business impact, including what resources employees might need to continue working in a less-than-ideal situation.
  2. Get an account of your business’ critical personnel. Your most important resource is your employees. Create a chart of employees working from home, and those working in the office, or satellite offices. Work with each employee to create a plan should their home office or your offices be inhabitable or lose power. How will they connect to the business’ network? Where can employees seek shelter should they be at your office during a disaster?
  3. Make a communications plan. Make sure you have more than one contact number for each employee. Consider creating a formal call tree to reach all employees quickly with critical information. Purchasing global satellite phones for employees in at-risk regions will allow you to contact them regardless of the scenario.
  4. Engage vendors now for post-disaster recovery. Put together vendors to act like first responders to your office needs in the aftermath of a disaster. Include roofing contractors, painters, general contractors and more that could be retained now to do the necessary leg work immediately post-disaster to get your physical office space back up and running as soon as possible. This will expedite the process post-disaster significantly and give you a leg up on business then.

Preparing for the worst and hoping for the best means planning out exactly what’s needed to maintain and return to critical business operations post-disaster. Start creating your disaster preparedness plan now!

Contact HUB Risk Services to learn how to develop a business continuity plan that will help protect your business and employees from the unexpected. Get the latest information, guidance and resources on Coronavirus (COVID-19) to help you protect what matters most on our Coronavirus Resource Center.