In the last 13 years, six Category 5 hurricanes have wreaked havoc on communities in the southeastern United States. With wind speeds reaching over 155 miles per hour and floodwaters surging over 19 feet high, Category 5 hurricanes can cause devastating destruction to properties and the businesses that operate within them. The Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1st and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a 60% chance of an above-average season. As businesses focus on safely reopening to the public following restrictions stemming from COVID-19, it will be easy to overlook the 21 tropical cyclones that will impact the Atlantic region this year.
Property damage from a hurricane or other severe weather incident affects more than just the building your organization operates out of. Employee injuries, equipment damage and lost income from business interruption can all have a severe impact on your bottom line. With this in mind, it is important to have a customized plan in place before an incident occurs to reduce the severity of damages and begin the recovery process with your best foot forward.
At minimum, your plan should include:
- Conditions which activate the plan.
- Response team and chain of command.
- Emergency functions and responsibilities.
- Equipment shut down and protection procedures.
- Mitigation protocols (damns, flood panels, etc.).
- Evacuation procedures (routes, exits, rally points, etc.).
- Procedures for accounting for personnel, customers, vendors and visitors.
- Equipment for personnel (basic disaster supplies kit).
- Business recovery plans.
- Training and plan review with employees.
FM Global estimates that for every $1 a business spends on hurricane/severe weather protection, their loss exposure is reduced by $105. Therefore, property carriers have a large incentive to help with the development of your Flood Emergency Response Plan (FERP). The FM Global website offers an abundance of resources to help you prepare for the disasters that are most likely to affect your organization; from FERP development, to flood mitigation, to windstorm securement.
A specific FERP is just one piece of the puzzle. To protect your organization, you’ll first need to assess your risk and determine if physical steps are necessary to protect your business. Are you located in a high hazard area for hurricanes? Are you located within a flood zone? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, additional precautions will be necessary.
Water-filled flood barriers are a cheap option for containing, controlling and diverting floodwaters. These compact, reusable barriers are lightweight and can be placed anywhere. Simply place them around doorways or garages and fill with water to control potential flooding.
Flood panels are a low-profile but sturdy solution to prevent waters from entering your facility. Two vertical slots are installed on either side of an entryway with waterproof horizontal panels stored nearby. Employees assigned to this role in your FERP will quickly install the horizontal panels to prevent water from entering key areas of your facility, such as high-value equipment areas.
Many organizations will need to protect specific pieces of equipment vital to their operation. Flood stop temporary barriers can be used either in or outdoors to protect these key items. It is important to note that these barriers are larger and require additional time for installation.
Hurricanes and other severe weather events can devastate an unprepared organization. Taking a proactive approach will go a long way in reducing the risk of catastrophe and assure that both your employees and customers are prepared for any event.