As we mark the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (and Rita and Wilma), officials are warning East Coast states about Hurricane Earl, which is expected to make landfall this weekend. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is warning people to be prepared for evacuations.
Hurricanes are severe tropical storms. Scientists can now predict hurricanes, but people who live in coastal communities should plan what they will do if they are told to evacuate.
The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA have made available tips for personal and business preparedness. Take time to learn about the emergency plans in your area. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
Here’s a summary of FEMA’s recommendations:
1. Get A Kit /”To-Go Bag” including items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car. Don’t forget important documents: driver’s license, Social Security card, proof of residence, insurance policies, wills, deeds, birth and marriage certificates, tax records, etc.
2. Make A Plan and consider how to contact family members, where to meet if disaster strikes and make sure you have transportation (and fuel) to get there. Don’t forget about your furry friends and appropriate pet supplies.
3. Be Informed by familiarizing yourself with the scale, potential impacted areas and possible damage. Hurricanes can produce widespread torrential rains and can trigger flooding, landslides or mud slides, especially in mountainous regions.
While preparing your stores:
- keep the needs of the community and your customers in mind – allow enough time for employees to safely manage personal obligations
- assess company functions and define critical business processes, equipment, suppliers/service providers and staffing needs
- stage merchandise and critical supplies in a safe area ready to deploy
- keep current contact information, including cell phone numbers, electronically and in hard copy
- consider using a hotline for employees to check-in, provide on-the-ground status reports, and updates about their personal situation
- hotlines can also be used to share store/facility status, payroll policies and other company information
- develop guidelines for manual operating guidelines in case of utility outages, such as communications failures or loss of electricity
There are many resources available and basic business principals apply…prepare, assess and communicate.