Natural Disaster Survival Guide For Businesses Part 2

 A Quick Reference for Business Leaders

Natural Disaster Survival Guide For Business, Part 2, is our second post in this series designed to prepare your business to survive any number of disasters that could shut your business down. These posts are not intended to be a complete preparation guide on disaster preparedness; rather they are meant to stimulate your thinking, as a business leader.

Disasters come in different ways. We’ve chosen six to chat about, leaving the most common one for last. Our first post in this series covered the first disaster on this list: Building fire or flooding. In this second post, we’ll chat about Hurricane or coastal storm.


1st Post - Building fire or flooding
This post - Hurricane or coastal storm
3. Flood
4. Tornado or extreme storm
5. Earthquake, landslide or avalanche
6. Human error aka “hurricane humanity”

INTRODUCTION: Every business has to prepare for the worst. Those that don’t may never fully recover from a disaster. But not all disasters are created equal. Moreover, not all businesses are at risk for every kind of disaster. That’s why our partner, Datto, put together this quick Disaster Survival Guide to help you ensure that your business can keep operating even if it’s struck by one of the natural disasters described. Of course, this post is no substitute for rigorous business continuity (BC) planning with a BC consultant. But it will get you started in the right direction—and help ensure that you have the basics of a good disaster recovery in place even before you invest in a more formal BC plan. Note: This post addresses continuity of business operations only. It does not address the physical safety of employees during a disaster—which should always be the first priority. For matters of employee safety, please consult appropriate guidance from building codes, fire safety engineers, etc.
• Answering phones
• Processing orders
• Issuing invoices
• Signing checks
• Filing reports required by regulatory mandates


Description: Hurricanes and coastal storms wreak destruction through a combination of high winds and heavy rain. They may also be accompanied by surging tides that flood the affected area with salt water.

Potential impact: Hurricanes and coastal storms impact business in three primary ways: Direct damage to operating facility due to high winds, flooding, and objects such as tree limbs and debris that become high-speed projectiles capable of smashing through windows, roofs and other structural elements. Extended power outages, road closures, and other lasting damages can put a business facility out of commission for a week or more. Regional impact can affect customers, suppliers, and business partners—as well as the homes of employees.

Risk factors: About a dozen named storms occur along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts each year. Major disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, underscore the potential damage that can result when such events strike population centers. Climate change may be increasing both the frequency and intensity of these events.

Warning times: Businesses usually have significant advance warning of an approaching storm. However, because storm paths are notoriously difficult to predict, these warnings can often be false alarms. Some businesses therefore fail to respond to storm warnings due to the “Cry Wolf” syndrome.

Technology continuity: Hurricanes and coastal storms can put a data center out of commission for a day, a week, or permanently. All businesses, especially those operating in storm or hurricane-prone areas, should be prepared for anything. Preparation should thus include:
Continuous off-site backup of data, applications, and server images.
• The ability to restore IT operations in the cloud and/or at a site sufficiently further inland from the coast to be unaffected by the storm. This restoration may require evacuation of key IT personnel out of the storm so that they can continue to work remotely from their laptops even if the area’s mobile data services are interrupted.
• Website posting that alerts customers and partners about storm preparations—along with frequent post-storm updates that allows visitor to track the progress of any necessary recovery.

In the event of a regional disaster, in addition to making sure their own operations continue uninterrupted, businesses should be prepared to help their nearby customers and partners get through the crisis.

People continuity: Major storms can affect entire regions for an extended period of time. Business continuity plans should include:
• Availability of a sufficiently distant inland facility—along with any temporary housing necessary for key employees whose homes are also in the path of the storm.
• Internal communications for keeping employees updated on resource availability, recovery status, etc.
• Any necessary third-party contracting for shipping/receiving, mail processing, duplicating, etc.

Planning should thus include communications in advance with local/regional customers and suppliers who may also be impacted by the storm. This communication should include alternative mobile contact numbers.
• Pre-determined policies regarding order turnaround times, invoice processing, scheduled service visits, and other activities likely to be affected by the storm.
• Direct servicing of customers by supply-chain partners, where appropriate and feasible.

Insurance considerations: In the wake of a major weather event, businesses should ensure that their policy covers all aspects of business continuity, rather than just damage and outage impacts. Also, given the fact that businesses typically have significant advance warning of such an event, companies should avoid confusion by contacting insurers in advance to confirm exactly what steps both parties will take in the storm’s immediate aftermath.

Take me back to Disaster Recovery.

Thank you for joining on this series on NATURAL DISASTER SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR BUSINESSES Part 2.

If you would like more information on Data Backup and Disaster Recovery, download your Free Business Advisory Guide Here.

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If you would like to chat about this, or anything call us at 503.359.1275

Dedicated to your success,

Wally Moore
dts|infotech . . . computer networks that work