A Quick Reference for Business Leaders
Natural Disaster Survival Guide For Business, Part 3, is our third 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. We’ve already covered the first two types of disasters, Building fire or flooding and Hurricane or costal storm, in previous posts. In this third post, we’ll chat about a Flood.
DISASTER SURVIVAL GUIDE
1. Building fire or flooding
2. Hurricane or coastal storm
4. Tornado or extreme storm
5. Earthquake, landslide or avalanche
6. Human error aka “hurricane humanity”
INTRODUCTION Before we get started, let’s introduce some basics and then we’ll move on and chat about a flood.
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
Disaster #3 FLOOD
Description: Floods typically result from excessive upstream precipitation and/or runoff. They can range from flash flood, which typically occur on smaller rivers, to slower rising floods across large low-lying areas.
Potential impact: Floods can have their greatest catastrophic impact on business facilities located in basements and first floors. Floods can also significantly interrupt business functions through power outages, loss of communications, and road flooding that prevents employees from commuting to and from work. Businesses should be especially cautious about asking employees, customers, or suppliers to drive when an area is under the threat of a flood since this is a leading cause of personal harm.
Risk factors: According to the NOAA, damage due to flooding in the U.S. amounts to an average of almost $8 billion annually. Flood risk varies considerably by both probability and likely severity. The FEMA Flood Map Service Center (MSC) is the official public source for flood hazard information produced in support of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Warning times: The National Weather Service and other agencies typically issue three types of alerts: flood advisory, flood watch, and flood warning. Advisory and watch alerts can give businesses 24 hours or more to prepare for an event.
Technology continuity: As noted above, businesses with any computer equipment located in basements or ground floors should take special precautions to protect their investments by getting them up and off the floor, if possible. Other appropriate precautions include:
• Increasing the frequency of off-site backups for data, applications, and server images.
• Preparation of an alternative worksite — including any necessary network/Internet connectivity, desktops/laptops, printers, routing of incoming calls, etc.
• Emergency posting for the company website, along with timely updates as the extent and impact of the flood unfold.
People continuity: Assuming an alert has been issued; businesses should not have employees report to work. Instead, arrangements should be made to have employees work from home, from the home of a friend or relative (if their home is within the projected flood area), or from an alternative facility well beyond the potential reach of flooding. If for some reason, employees are on-site when a warning is issued, the facility should be quickly evacuated. Information about suggested evacuation route(s) should be shared with employees. Again, under no conditions should employees be encouraged to commute through a flood-prone area.
Process continuity: Because floods can have extensive regional impact lasting for several days, businesses may need to make alternative provisions for customers and supply-chain partners:
• For customers within the flood area, businesses should obtain necessary information about their own flood preparations. This may include alternative worksites, key contacts’ mobile phone numbers, etc.
• For customers not within the flood area, businesses should pro-actively communicate about the potential for a disruption and the steps being taken to avoid that disruption. Alternative plans should be made in the event that the business is still interrupted — such as direct servicing of customers by supply-chain partners, where appropriate.
• For supply-chain partners, plans should be made for emergency situations such as power outages and road closures. For example, decisions can be made not to ship goods to the business facility in order to avoid potential damage to inventory.
Insurance considerations: Flood insurance is a highly specialized category within the broader property and casualty (P&C) market. Business owners should review their policies carefully to make sure they are covered for all potential types of loss at a fair price. In some cases, it may be necessary to obtain a flood policy from a separate
Underwriter specializing in flood-related business coverages.
Thank you for joining us in this series on NATURAL DISASTER SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR BUSINESSES Part 3.
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