Recovery operations are still underway in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico after Hurricane Harvey and Irma ripped through those areas, leaving nothing but damage behind. Hurricane Harvey cost between $65- and $190-billion and the damage range for Hurricane Irma was between $50- and $100-billion, according to Fortune.
The cost of damage and productivity is incredibly high when it comes to natural disasters affecting businesses. Some organizations can recover in six months or less, while others take a year or up to three years, Fortune reported, but closing the doors of your business for any amount of time is never a good thing.
Let’s use these disasters as an opportunity for learning and future planning. Here are some things that both Hurricane Harvey and Irma taught the enterprise about preparedness and data, according to Agility Recovery:
Know your power requirements
About 60 percent of business interruptions that Agility Recovery responds to involve power loss. And when it came to Hurricane Irma, “temporary power was the number one element we deployed to support our customers,” the vendor reported.
However, before anyone can offer you power from a generator, you have to know what the power needs of your organization are. Inform yourself by speaking to a licensed electrician and ensure you have this information on hand so you aren’t tasked with obtaining it during a disaster.
Agility Recovery suggests asking the following questions:
- What phase is your electrical service? Is it single or three phase?
- What voltage is your service? Typically 208v, 240v or 480v.
- Is your power requirement for a Wye or Delta generator?
- How many amps do you need to power key systems? Tip: Determine your peak Amperage draw over the past 12-24 months.
- What size generator will be required? How many kW will your needs demand?
- Does your building have a power transfer switch? If no transfer switch has been installed, you will need to consider other options, such as hardwiring or a spider box for power distribution.
Access to multiple vendors
Do you depend on various vendors throughout a typical workday to get your job done? Many do, and that includes your internet provider, wireless carrier and more. During a disaster, those vendors can become “choke points of recovery operations,” according to Agility Recovery, as they often have to deal with an increase in customer requests. As a backup, the vendor suggests finding and creating a relationship with alternate vendors for any elements that are vital to your daily business flow.
Regional disasters like hurricanes will not only affect your business, but the personal lives of your employees. Employees that are affected are less likely to return to work and evacuations can certainly prevent them from getting there. A form of consistent communication with employees is vital.
“Without knowing where your employees have relocated, properly understanding their timeline for returning to work, and their capability to do so is limited. In particular, if a large portion of your staff are hourly wage employees, you must consider the likelihood of those employees seeking work elsewhere if you are unable to help them bridge the financial gap when they are out of work,” Agility Recovery reported. “We’ve had customers lose up to 60 percent of their workforce literally overnight when their staff learned of the delay they may face in returning to work and earning a living wage again.”
A recovery plan requires effective communication to be successful. If telecommunications were to fail, what is your backup plan? It’s important to find secondary methods of communication before catastrophe strikes so your business is prepared.
Agility Recovery suggests utilizing a third-party texting application on smartphones, backup email and emergency contact information for loved ones of your employees.
Confirm proper insurance coverage
Getting proper and complete insurance coverage is key as many are learning about the limitations of standard coverage only now after the hurricane damage has been done. Most policies reportedly do not cover natural disasters related to flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program does cover flood damage, but won’t cover business interruption or lost revenue.
“As a business leader, your physical locations and property may be covered by NFIP policies, but if your doors are closed for weeks or months for repairs, you will not be compensated for all that lost revenue,” Agility Recovery reported. “When looking at your comprehensive insurance coverage, be sure to understand the maximum damages payable in each scenario, and seriously consider obtaining added expense coverage. This particular coverage will help offset costs related to the actual recovery, like obtaining replacement equipment, temporary lodging or office space for employees, incidentals like supplies, fuel and travel expense and more.”
Always have access to cash
Paying electronically is simple, but it’s important to have access to cash in the event of a catastrophe. If a vendor or retailer can’t process your transaction electronically, you’re out of luck. Consider that you may need cash to buy food, fuel, lodging, repair supplies, and more.
Reliance on government authorities
Much of the recovery process is centered on local, state and federal government entities. Take advantage of the programs, services and resources that will most likely be available in your community. It’s also important to know who to talk to and when; ensure that task is handled before a disaster is likely to strike.
“While all of the above lessons are derived from the real world experiences of our customers and their fellow citizens in communities affected by the recent disasters, almost all could have been areas that a simple test would have uncovered prior to the actual disaster,” Agility Recovery reported. “Testing can help create a culture of preparedness across all areas within your organization. As your organization evolves, grows, and adds new offices and new employees, your business continuity strategy should be updated to address those changes.”
Testing is crucial and a regular review of your plan could be what keeps your doors open during a disaster or at least saves some cash.