Flooded: Keeping Your Business Out of Hot Water

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Fifteen inches of rain over the course of just a few days caused what is being described as a 1,000 year flood in the mountains of Colorado this past September.  Rainfall patterns turned rains into a biblical storm that ravaged the lands and forced unsuspecting residents out of their homes and a disaster proclamation. Now, while they rebuild, many wonder how they could have been prepared for something like this.

“The area has flooded before, but never like this.” With an increase in population in this country, paired with manmade and natural changes to the environment, we will see an abundance of climate-based devastation, yet the key is to find out how to be prepared. How do you prepare for a storm that had a .001 chance of occurring?

It WILL happen. This isn’t negativity, this is preparedness, and many people would rather believe the sun will always shine instead of invest in a gloomy uncertainty.  It can work to lessen the shock of the event, and allows people to think critically about their needs.

2013 Colorado Flood Photo Map - The Denver Post - Mozilla Firefox 1022013 113514 AM

Points on map reflect where flooding and damage occurred

Floods are the most expensive and widespread of all disasters. According to the Small Business Administration, businesses are more likely to flood than burn down, so it is vital to prepare now.

The following checklist from Agility Recovery will help keep your business afloat even if the worst happens. “The following resources and tools will help mitigate your risk and protect not only your business, but also the most critical element of your business – your people.”
Before the Flood

  • Review Emergency Plan with team, and key employees
  • Take all necessary steps to prevent the release of dangerous chemicals that might be stored on your property – locate main gas and electrical shut-offs and anchor all fuel tanks
  • Postpone any receipt of goods- deliveries, couriers, etc.
  • Contact insurance agent, discuss policy, etc.
  • Establish emergency communication method (Alert Notification System, phone tree, etc.); identify meeting place and time for all key employees in Crisis Management Team; create voicemail for when evacuated, or out of office, etc.
  • Update disaster recovery kits and begin crisis back-up procedures
  • Maintain accurate inventory of product on site
  • Use plugs to prevent floodwater from backing up into sewer drains, or install flood vents/or flood proof barriers
  • Stay tuned to local media & community messaging

During the Flood

  • Life safety is paramountBegin next phase of your business continuity plan
  • Send non-critical staff home
  • Raise elevators to the 2nd floor and turn off
  • Stay tuned to local media- evacuate when required
  • Take cell phones, charger, critical hardware, and emergency kits with you
  • Unplug electrical items before leaving
  • Consider your business phones and redirection to cell phones, an answering service, or Google Voice
After the Flood

  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink
  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage – water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded, roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet, mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals
  • Implement DR plan, and monitor local authorities’ communication
  • Contact employees via determined method of communication and discuss next stepsContact your insurance agent
Your People

  • Ensure you have an emergency communication plan in place prior to the storm, evacuation, or threat
  • Have all employees, vendors, and client contact information on hand
  • During evacuation have a central point of contact for all employees, and ensure you know where your employees are located
  • Following the flood, notify all critical people of next steps, based on damage

Helping to Mitigate your Risk for Flood Interruption:

Do You Know the Terms?
•Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
• Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
• Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Flash Flood Warning:  A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
For more information about flood prevention visit www.floodsmart.gov.
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Fascinating, Flooding, Ferocious Storms: Summer Hazard Series Spotlight on Hurricanes

Blog_HeaderHere at REM4, those of us in the disaster/emergency field are likely to stay abreast of the latest storm formations on the www.nhc.noaa.gov  site and look for brooding tropical storms in the gulf, and carefully pay attention to whether a circle of clouds is showing hints of becoming a spiral, and wait with baited breath during the hot months for a potential hurricane.

In the Atlantic, hurricane season starts June 1, while in the Pacific it starts May 15. Both end on November 30. Mid-August is considered the beginning of the peak of the season—so here we are!

If you and your business are in a hurricane-prone area, then you have probably seen it happen time and time again. When hurricanes hit, communities may experience devastation, yet many choose to prepare to rebuild. More and more, due to climate change and sea level rise, this has become a hot topic: To rebuild or not to rebuild? Home is where you live, you work, where your community is, where your family and friends are, and dedication to sense of place is something that should be heavily considered when choosing recovery strategies. 

Hurricanes are called different names depending upon where they form. In fact, a hurricane is what the storm is called in the Atlantic Ocean. In the northwest Pacific Ocean, it’s called a typhoon. In the South Pacific and Indian oceans, it’s called a cyclone. The scientific name that’s acceptable for these storms across the world is “tropical cyclone.”

These storms aren’t going to get any easier. Here are some things you may not have the answers to that you should consider:

“Of small businesses that close because of a disaster, at least one in four will not reopen,” according to a previous statement from Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute.

What’s insurance for? Aren’t I supposed to be covered?

Insurance may not cover everything and counting on FEMA and insurance to bail you out of a hurricane doesn’t cover your full loss and expenditures unless you’re already paying a high premium on flood insurance. Other damage that occurs may be out-of-pocket, and if your community or business damage costs are high, you may be out of money for months or even years. Mitigation is another aspect to consider—windows leaking, old roof systems, computer damage, etc. all need to be taken into account for a business continuity plan.

When customers and clients are counting on you, what response and recovery plans do you have in order to assure they are tended to while you take care of personal costs at home and at your place of work? Business loss insurance coverage usually begins after a waiting period of about 72 hours and claims can take weeks for companies to estimate. $10,000/day in losses the first three days of waiting can come straight out of your business. Ouch.

There is business interruption coverage, which will help a business relocate and continue operating if its building is physically damaged, and contingent business interruption coverage, which can help a business if its major supplier or supply chain is damaged by the disaster. (courtesy of newspress.com: http://tiny.cc/z9pr1w)

At home: The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has an online tool that helps calculate a rough estimate of how much flooding, by height of water, could cost a household. A home that spans 1,000 square feet with six inches of flooding could have total losses of $20,150. Those costs, which vary by state and by type of home, average $1,000 in cleaning, $150 for electrical and plumbing, $7,900 in wood and carpet repair, thousands of dollars more in appliance and furniture replacement, and $1,100 in repairing doors, base trim and windows. (courtesy of http://abcnews.go.com/Business/top-things-flooding-sandy/story?id=17616519)

Want to know your updated flood risk? Visit FEMA’s website at http://www.fema.gov/risk-analysis-helping-communities-know-their-natural-hazard-risk