Hurricane Business Continuity Plan

August 7, 2020

In October of 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida causing an estimated $25 billion in damage.  Hurricane Michael was designated a category 5 storm with winds up to 160 miles per hour. In contrast, in October of 2012, Hurricane Sandy, which was briefly downgraded to a tropical storm had winds of only 80 miles per hour (Category 1) when making landfall in NYC. Although Sandy produced wind speeds half that of Michael, and was barely a hurricane when it landed, the timing of the storm (Full moon and high tide along Atlantic City and NYC) wreaked havoc along the eastern seaboard causing approximately $70 billion dollars in damage.  At the time, this was the second costliest storm in the United States.  As you can see, it doesn’t matter what the size of the storm is, any storm can cause massive amounts of damage.  You should always be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.  Having a well-thought-out plan in place, can help minimize the destruction and expense.  (Hurricane Statistics Fast Facts)

According to FEMA, forty percent of businesses do not reopen after a disaster and another twenty five percent fail within one year.  There are many things that can be done in advance to limit your liabilities and expenses. Planning and preparation are the best ways to mitigate losses.

People in every walk of life and every profession are learning valuable lessons as we live through the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The quarantine and shutdown are things we have never dealt with before.  No one could have imagined this ever-taking place in this day and age.  Most, if not all business were not prepared.  Hurricanes are a predictable event. With the technology that we possess today, planning ahead should be a staple of business. (Study: 40 percent of businesses fail to reopen after a disaster)

Remember, you don’t plan to fail, you fail to plan. A brief breakdown of items that should be considered for your Hurricane Disaster Plan are listed below:   (Welcome to the FEMA Preparedness Portal)

Who is in Charge?  Someone needs to be designated as the decision maker.  Supporting roles need to be established as well.  These roles and responsibilities should be documented in your plan.

Planning Meetings:  Your Hurricane plan should not be taken lightly.  Planning meetings should be held way in advance of Hurricane season which runs from June 1st through November 30th each year.

Create Organization Chart: Spreadsheet should include everyone’s roles and responsibilities.

Create Checklists: Create Checklists for employees that may have to work remotely or at the redundant site to ensure they take all necessary materials with them.

Tabletop Exercise:  Once your plan has been formulated, run a tabletop exercise to tweak your plan as necessary and to ensure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities.

Packing Up: All essential items should be removed from low lying areas.  If possible place all electronic equipment and paperwork on top of file cabinets, shelves, or coat racks etc.

Redundant Work Site(s): Depending on the size of your company, a redundant work site should be set up and ready to go.  Phone lines, computers, desks, chairs, internet service, backup generators, etc. should be in place and operating prior to any natural disaster, including blackouts. For those companies where this is not economically feasible, consider having your employees work remotely.  If this is the case, ensure that they have laptops. If they are utilizing their personal laptop or desktop, make sure they have access to your systems.  Run a mock drill, if possible, to help minimize any unforeseen issues. This drill should include employees that will be utilizing the work site.

Fuel for Generators: Ensure that all generators are sufficiently fueled including backup generators.

Security for Site: If your site requires security, contact your provider to ensure coverage will be maintained through the storm. Many companies require an additional Emergency Service contract for situations like this.  If you typically do not have security, but would like some peace of mind, hiring a company for this short-term project could be worth the cost. Looters and vandals can cause damage above what a Security Officer may have cost.

Communications:  Establish a 1-800# that your employees can use to give and receive updates.

Contacts: Make sure all emergency contact information is updated.

Contractors to Shutter Building:  Depending on the size of your building, you may want to have a contractor in place to help shutter the building from the storm.  Your maintenance team may need additional support as the storm approaches.

Insurance: Contact insurance company prior to the storm to become familiar with insurance claim process.

Post Storm Critique: Meet with key players to discuss what worked and what didn’t. Make appropriate changes for future emergency incidents.

These are just a few items that should be considered when formulating a Hurricane Continuity Plan.  Strategic Security has provided Hurricane and Disaster support and relief for several of our clients.  We believe in delivering value driven superior solutions to our customers. We at Strategic, protect what matters most to you.

Jimmy Kimmel

Sr. Account Manager, Strategic Security Corp.

Retired NYPD Captain