With the aftermath of Hurricane Ida still being dealt with across the northeastern United States and the hurricane season roaring through November, property owners and managers need to take note. Researchers have found that over the last 40 years, these storms have become more frequent and stronger, most likely as a result of climate change.

Hurricane preparedness for commercial building operators

Planning ahead

Conducting an audit of your building’s emergency strategy is a good place to start. Be sure to review your company’s insurance policy to ensure your business is adequately covered. Remind staff of policy and procedures in the event of an emergency, and take note that emergency supplies are well-stocked. Ensure all sensitive and important digital files and servers are backed up.

A good resource is the FEMA Flood Map Service Center, where you can find your location’s official flood map and determine if your business is of a heightened risk of flooding and storm surge damage.

Hurricane preparedness for employers

For employers, advanced planning can include creating a staff list with emergency contact numbers for when employees are out of office. Major clients, insurance contacts, suppliers and contractors can also be added to the list. A plan of action will need to be created so that your business can notify customers that it is operational or not during what may be a critical time. Responsibilities will need to be assigned to key personnel as to who will be on site following the storm and assignments given to those who will be responsible for outreach.

When a storm is immanent

When a hurricane is immanent or a warning issued, there are steps to take for building operators. Insurance provider Chubb recommends trimming large trees and shrubs and bringing all exterior furniture inside. Windows and doors may need to be protected. Vehicles on site will need to be moved to higher ground and away from trees and power lines.

For offices, the Jacksonville Business Journal suggests going through each floor and ensuring all non-essential electronics are turned off. Elevators and cooling towers will have to be shut down. A source of back-up power is also recommended.

Storm surge is historically the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States, per FEMA. For more information on planning ahead, check out https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.