With the United States’ National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) outlook that predicts up to 10 major storms this season, it’s no surprise that businesses along the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico are on high alert.1 The Canadian Hurricane Centre generally expects to see three or four tropical cyclones each year, regardless of the number of storms expected across the Atlantic.2 In addition to the direct costs associated with loss and damage to brick and mortar, hurricanes severely impact businesses in many indirect ways, including business interruption and issues of supply and demand – all of which can be felt months after a storm has subsided.
Being prepared is your best bet to weather a hurricane. Our hurricane preparedness plan for businesses guide will help you know what you need to do before, during and after a big storm to minimize the impact later.
Before and During a Hurricane
Geography doesn’t always matter. Just because your business isn’t on the coastline, doesn’t mean you won’t be impacted by the storm. Consider how a power outage or rift in your supply chain will affect your business. How long can you sustain a power outage? How will it affect your inventory and customer base? Can your product or product components still get to you during a hurricane?
Establish relationships now with restoration contractors. Although it may take some time, developing a relationship with a restoration contractor before an event is invaluable. If you wait until after the hurricane to find a restoration contractor, those with the best reputation will have already committed their resources to existing clientele.
Fortify your roof. Roofs typically suffer the most significant damage during a wind storm or hurricane. While there’s some damage that can be prevented, there are materials available to help prevent the roof from blowing off and rain from being blown through fascia. Invest in them now.
Don’t underestimate the risk of flooding. Determine whether your facility is susceptible to flooding or located in a flood zone (see the FloodSmart Canada website) and develop protocols around mitigating the hazard, such as raising building contents off the floor or moving equipment to higher levels; utilizing sandbags in openings and doorways and shutting off electricity in advance. Even if your facility isn’t in a flood zone, your employees or customers may live in or drive through one to get to you. Consider the impact.
Utilize technology for emergency notification. Use technology as a notification tool for employees and the public. Establish notification processes with your employees and utilize multiple channels (i.e., Facebook, email, texting, etc.) to communicate your plan during a storm.
Generators don’t solve all your problems. A generator will only be of use if you can get fuel for it. If you can, make sure you know how to use it. During past storms, generators have led to fatalities when not used in a manner that ensured CO2 emissions were properly ventilated.
Have access to cash. Canadians are used to paying for everything with a credit card or going to the ATM. These methods may not work in the event of a power outage. Ultimately, business owners need to receive payment and must provide customers with change in exchange for goods and services. Make sure you maintain cash on hand for emergency use.
After a Hurricane
Focus on the outcomes, not the causes. Rather than focusing on the causes of potential losses, focus on the outcomes that need fixing to ensure they are recovered soon. These might include: loss of critical technology or a building; denied access to a building; or loss of staff or a supplier. Once you identify your challenges, implement alternate operating strategies.
Don’t be stuck without fuel. Without fuel, you cannot operate generators, vehicles, chainsaws and other equipment necessary to recovery. Area gas shortages can lead to hours of waiting in line while a gas station runs out of their supply too. Additionally, when there’s a great demand for fuel, its cost will rise exponentially.
Report claims immediately. When you have a claim, call your HUB insurance broker and report it immediately. Document the damage as accurately as possible, which includes taking pictures and notes.
The question isn’t whether a major storm will affect businesses this year. The question is, when will it happen? Start preparing now. Contact your HUB broker or Risk Services Specialist today to help you begin the process of preparing for a hurricane.
1 https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/busy-atlantic-hurricane-season-predicted-for-2020 2 https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/canadian-hurricane-centre-ready-for-2020-hurricane-season-with-forecast-of-above-average-activity-levels-871043574.html