Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season, Part II

Category: Article • September 15, 2022

*With all credit due to Jimmy Buffett, a hit off the 1974 “A1A” Album.

In our last Blog we began our discussion of preparing for Hurricane Season.

We discussed:

  • “Storms of the Century” that affected widespread areas of the Mid-Atlantic
  • NOAA hurricane predictions for 2022…with a projected 65% chance of an ‘above-normal’ hurricane season, resulting in a projected 6 to 10 hurricanes
  • One of the key reasons thought to be behind this increase: La Niña
  • The potential for significant property damage/loss, simply due to the size, power & magnitude of these monster storms
  • Some basic building inspection / preventative maintenance items to reduce the loss
  • Insurance details to attend to PRIOR to a ‘perfect storm’
  • Preparations for staff during a significant storm event
  • The importance of establishing trusted relationships with professional partners who can assist you in weathering the storm

*And then we paused for the “cliffhanger”*

Every great summer blockbuster has a cliffhanger to set up the sequel, right?

We’ve all seen those funny memes on social media, like:

Marked Safe Today from … (whatever)”

While these bring a chuckle while scrolling through social media, they were very much brought to the forefront during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when many people used this type of message to get the word out to friends, co-workers, and relatives that they were safe and out of immediate harm’s way.

With the recent pandemic, most of us have gotten more accustomed to remote…meaning ’de-centralized’…work models in our business.  Even in the ‘hands-on’ service industry, there are Admin and HR Departments who don’t need to be on site to get their work done.

Contact Information

A ‘Blue-Sky’ day is the best time…before the storm…to update everyone’s contact information and next of kin.  Having reliable, relevant and 100% accurate contact information for every member of your team is crucial.  In many business settings, initial contact information is collected during the hiring & onboarding process.  That may have been years or even decades ago.  Making sure that all team members have access to this information is key.  In a large, corporate setting, it may have made sense for some employees to only have direct cell phone access to their immediate supervisor or manager.  But what if that person or persons are not reachable during an area-wide catastrophic weather event?  Don’t take chances with some employees being ‘orphaned’ and unable to connect with others in your organization if their immediate supervisor or manager is unreachable.

Data Backup, Access & Security

Make sure all of your employees have a way to access needed company & client information stored in the cloud.  And not just while physically at their office desk, using company equipment, but on remote devices, outside of the office network.  A security check with your IT Department will ensure access is available, AND the proper security measures are in place and working, to prevent unauthorized access.

Knowing where your data is stored, and is both backed-up and secure is vital.  Remember not all backups are created equal.  If your company deals in BIG data, your backups may not be in a readily usable format while still in their backup state.  Often, large data backup sets are heavily compressed and multiple data points are layered together into one file.  This means the data will not be readily accessible until you complete a Backup Restore.  And the 1st rule of backups is that you have at least three copies of your data, and in more than one location.

Here’s a list of other key items for consideration.  You must determine which apply to your business model.  Your specific business category, as well as Federal, State or Local Laws/Regulations and your Insurance Policy may REQUIRE you to have any number of these pieces in place.

  • Battery Backup for Sump Pumps
    • Generally, are a temporary fix, but might buy you some time until you go to plan ‘b’.
  • Whole-House or Building Propane/Natural Gas/Diesel Generator
    • Becoming more affordable to even smaller footprints and they provide a way to keep most/all of your operation functioning even when the grid is down for extended periods of time.
  • Local or whole building power line conditioners & surge suppressor and UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) devices
    • Major storms cause massive swings in line current: dips (brown-outs) and transient spikes (upward surges) in power.  These wreak havoc with sensitive electric/electronic equipment.
    • At the very least, invest in local or point-of-use surge suppressors for your most sensitive & critical equipment.  And not the $9 variety the big-box stores display at the checkout…you’re likely to have both a fried power strip AND fried equipment.
    • A step up would be to invest in line-conditioning equipment, which acts like a filter for your electricity supply, screening out sharp rises and falls in power and ‘noise’ or crosstalk on the line, all of which are damaging to sensitive, electronic equipment.
    • Related, UPS units for your computers.  They may only supply operational power for several minutes or up to an hour, but the better ones will also have your computer automatically save any open documents and then power down the system the RIGHT way, not the HARD way.
  • Building Board-ups and other extreme measures
    • If your building is to be left unoccupied during the event, then some extreme or heroic measures may be beneficial.
    • Of course, you’re not going to “lights-out” and “board-up” your 24/7/365 Senior Living Facility (unless the authorities declare a mandatory evacuation), but you will want to secure loose, outdoor items and perhaps sandbag certain, non-emergency doors.
  • Physical Building Security
    • Not a pleasant fact, but looting is often an unfortunate aftermath of widespread storm damage.
    • Consider partnering with a Security Company.