Hurricane Season is Approaching − Are You Prepared?

Posted on: April 28, 2022
Author: Dawn Turton

Category 5 super typhoon from outer space view. The eye of the hurricane.Forecasters have predicted that we may see another hectic hurricane season in 2022. This prediction stems from the strong potential that La Niña − unusually cold ocean temperatures − may continue through the summer months. This year alone, we could see as many as nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes during the Atlantic Basin hurricane season (June to November). Some forecasters are even saying that 2022 will be on par with 2021, which had 21 named storms, seven hurricanes, and four hurricanes that reached Category 3 or above. And although hurricane season officially begins in June, during the past 10 seasons we have seen eight storms begin before June 1st.

Regardless of the number of hurricanes predicated for this year, companies and individuals must be proactively prepare for the potential disruption resulting from serious storms. The reality is that almost 25% of businesses have to shut their doors permanently after a disaster, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). However, there are several key steps organizations can take to ensure they don’t become part of this statistic.

Preparedness is Key

There are numerous recommendations that organizations should follow to best prepare for disasters such as hurricanes. These include:

1. Business Continuity and IT Disaster Recovery Programs

Companies should be able to identify their critical business critical business functions and critical assets (typically identified by conducting a business impact assessment). Strategies should be developed to address gaps in the company’s ability to continue operations if they encounter any disruptions.

In addition to traditional business continuity programs, companies must also be monitoring what the disruption means for their IT disaster recovery programs so that critical applications and equipment can be recovered effectively and efficiently to support the most important business services. Recovery requirements and capabilities must also be identified so that gaps are identified, understood, and addressed.

Delivering critical business services to customers − regardless of disruptions − is the key element that drastically increases the company’s chances of survival.

2. Crisis Programs and Hurricane-specific Response Programs

Having business continuity and IT disaster recovery programs are just part of the picture. It is also important to have crisis and scenario-specific emergency response programs related to hurricanes to be able to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the unique challenges of these massive storms.

The good news, however, about hurricanes is their predictability and advanced warning through weather forecasts. Therefore, hurricane preparedness should include steps to prepare people and assets proactively before the hurricane arrives to mitigate business impact. Programs should also outline steps to follow during and after a hurricane until there has been a return to normal operations.

3. Pre-season and Mid-season Preparations

In conjunction with having hurricane-specific programs, it is beneficial to have formal procedures and checklists to complete before the beginning of the hurricane season. This may include awareness campaigns among employees, gathering and inventorying supplies, testing generators and other equipment, and other steps to ensure readiness.

Hurricane season is six months in duration; therefore, following the same procedures during the mid-season is highly recommended as supplies may be depleted or expired. Additionally, regular testing of generators and other equipment (e.g., satellite phones) to ensure they work properly is critical to hurricane response.

4. Supporting Technology

Even if you have the best crisis program and the best crisis teams, crisis response and recovery will fail if effective communication methods are not in place. Utilizing an Emergency Notification System (ENS) will ensure the right information gets to the right people at the right time. As the situation continues to unfold during the hurricane, some communication technology may be compromised, so you need to ensure you have backup methods in place to be able to communicate with any affected employees during an emergency. Some companies rely on communication apps (e.g., WhatsApp) and regular telephone. Others may rely on satellite phones as a viable backup option; however, even satellite technology isn’t always reliable depending on the situation.

In addition to communication, timing and effective decision-making are critical when it comes to managing an incident. Every storm has its own unique set of circumstances. It’s important to be able to manage incidents, develop coordinated responses, and analyze with confidence from one centralized view. Fusion’s newest crisis management capabilities enable organizations to respond quickly and efficiently when seconds count during a crisis, and that means making sure response teams have the right information at their fingertips to confidently navigate through any incident or disruption.

There is no way to prepare for everything. The best programs are agile. Fusion empowers our customers to build, activate, and execute data-driven programs dynamically so you can adjust strategies as conditions change and minimize the overall impact of disruption.

5. Pre-established Contractual Relationships for Support

Don’t wait for a crisis to start looking for companies that provide duty of care type of support.

Maintaining a membership with a global emergency medical assistance services provider means employees will have access to a network of logistics coordinators, physicians, vetted clinics or hospitals, ambulances, and aviation services as well as online guides to medical information.

Contractual relationships with companies in the safety and security space are also crucial. It may be necessary to augment security at locations affected by the hurricane to ensure the safety of employees and visitors. This may also ensure the security of the location if there is high crime risk following a major disaster.

Pre-established contractual relationships should also include restoration companies that assist with recovering assets after a hurricane due to damage from wind, water (e.g., flooding), or another element.

6. Evacuation Framework

Assuming there is a pre-established relationship with a company that provides security and/or medical support that would assist their clients during an evacuation, it is important for companies to work with their vendors to develop an evacuation framework in advance of any crisis.

Companies should consider developing their own framework that works in concert with the vendor’s protocols. Additionally, it is important to engage vendors in critical scenario discussions to strengthen procedures.

7. Lessons Learned or After-action Reporting

The best way to improve hurricane response is to recall lessons learned from previous events and improve on those to become more resilient in the future. While lessons learned activities are often completed at the end of a crisis, the process of learning and improving may take place at any time so that you can gradually make improvements along the way.

Companies need to document what worked and what didn’t and take the actions needed to make course corrections. Taking time to document actions, action owners, and due dates will increase the likelihood of improvements being put in place.

8. (Last but Certainly Not Least) People First!

At all times, companies must focus on the safety and security of their people by striving to keep them out of harm’s way and taking care of those who need assistance. Once their safety and security is confirmed, companies then need to stay focused on the continuous needs of their people; this may include on-going supplies, resources, and other support.

While some of these things are required as part of duty of care, companies should do them not because they are required to but because it is the right thing to do to take care of their people.

Take Action

Hurricane season is quickly approaching − are you prepared?

With all of the above being said, you must now ask yourself if you have considered all of these recommendations so that your organization is best able to respond to any disaster, including hurricanes.

Request a demo with Fusion today or reach out to your Fusion Account Manager to ensure you have all proper programs in place.