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Wednesday, 06 September 2017 22:15

Emergency Hurricane Preparation Checklist for Business Owners

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Checklist for Business Owners and Operators

While we watched the destruction by Hurricane Harvey, and continue to watch hurrican Irma tracking towards the United States after leaving a path of destruction in the Carribean, New England residents and business owners may wonder if a major weather event like that could happen here. The answer, according to meteorologists, is probably not. "Harvey was a very unique storm in that it stalled," said Jacob Wycoff, a meteorologist for Western Mass News in Springfield. "We are so close to the jet stream [that] we don't get that type of stalling system." Additionally, Irma is the stongest hurrican in the Atlantic ever recorded. 

The reason for the massive rainfall is that Harvey stalled, moving at around 5 miles per hour. "You talk about how fast you or I would run a 5k race, we would run faster than this hurricane is moving right here," Wycoff said. "It is essentially just sitting and spinning." The reason for the flooding is that, since 2010, Houston has allowed the building of 7,000 homes in low-lying areas of the city. The Army Corps of Engineers and Harris County launched a partnership to widen channels and build bridges in the area to reduce the impact of flooding, but the city was unable to get the resources need to build a seawall or floodgates that were needed to mitigate the damage of storm like Hurricane Harvey.

New England and Massachusetts are have had memorable and major storms - for example, Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012. But nothing has affected us like Hurricane Harvey has affected Texas. Between 1950 and 2012, the maximum rainfall to hit Massachusetts was Tropical Storm Diane in 1955, which dropped 19.75 inches of rain in the state, according to the National Weather Service. In contrast, Houston has seen in excess of 50 inches of rain in some areas — more than what they usually receive in a year. 

Alan Dunham, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Taunton, said by the time storms reach New England, they are typically beginning to weaken, or they are fast-moving hurricanes. Storms in New England typically travel at 35 to 45 miles per hour. They tend to last from eight to 12 hours, or at most 18 hours. Hurricane Harvey hit Texas Friday night and is expected to stay in the area through Wednesday or Thursday. "It would really take an outlier of a storm to give us that much rain," Dunham said.

Still, we have had hurricanes and nor'easters in New England as well as an occassional tornado. Weather is unpredictable and can be ferocious, and even if we don't experience the level of flooding, damage and destruction like Hurricane Harvey, businesses should prepare.

Why should small business prepare for hurricanes and other major disasters?

Although hurricanes tend to be destructive, but not as destruction as Harvey or Irma, almost half of all small businesses affected by a major disaster, such as a tornado, flood, earthquake or hurricane, do not reopen their doors because they were unprepared for the disaster,  according to the American Red Cross. Therefore, it is necessary for business owners and managers to consider the fact that a loss of business from a natural disaster is possible.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How could I continue to conduct business if the city (or even just the streets near my building) are closed off?
  2. How could I serve my customers’ needs if my facility needed to close for several months?
  3. Could my business survive if it was closed down for several weeks or months?

Even if a hurricane, or other major weather event, does not put your company out of business, you may not be able to make contact with your customers or obtain important deliveries. To combat these risks, you must take the necessary steps before a disaster strikes to ensure business continuation. Using social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, can help companies stay in touch with customers when other forms of communication are not available. Certainly, updating social media accounts depends on access to devices and power, so this should be part of your disaster communication plan, if possible.

Be prepared. Download our Emergency Hurricane Preparation Checklist for Business Owners and Operators

Sources for some of this content: Mass Live and Vox.

Read 90 times Last modified on Wednesday, 06 September 2017 22:42
More in this category: 7 Ways to Prepare for a Hurricane »

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