Business Continuity During a Hurricane (Lessons Learned)

  • Sep 19, 2018

Maintaining business continuity during a hurricane seems nearly impossible. Let’s face it: Hurricanes are scary. We know that when most people think of hurricanes, they think of major ones like Hurricane Maria, Superstorm Sandy, or Hurricane Katrina. But did you know that even Category 1 and 2 storms can create devastating flash flooding and long-term power outages?

Don’t believe us? Look at Hurricane Florence via Sferic Maps, for example.

The once Category 4 storm weakened to a Category 2 by the time it made landfall in the Carolinas. It weakened very quickly after leaving the warm waters of the Atlantic and people around the country stopped caring about it so much.

If you live or work in the affected area, though, you know Florence was still no joke. While the wind wasn’t as bad as this reporter tried to make it seem, the rain caused major flooding in some areas.

Estimates are still not in for damages from Florence, but we believe that businesses and residents alike will have a lot of damage to assess.

How to Minimize Hurricane-Related Business Risks

These effects can mean big disruptions for your business depending on your location(s) and the industry you’re in. While there’s no way to stop the storm, we’re here to tell you that you can ease hurricane-related burdens with a little help from your friends.

The folks in the business continuity industry are some of the greatest we’ve ever interacted with. We’ve never met such intelligent people who are genuinely interested in helping their colleagues out. When we rain our Hurricane Preparedness Tip Contest back in August 2018 we were amazed by how many professionals in the space responded.

Sharing truly is caring in the business continuity industry as others’ experiences can help you mitigate hurricane-related risks. You can download the full ebook for free right now by clicking the link below.

GET THE EBOOK

Or, you can keep reading to learn about one of the most important lessons learned by professionals during last year’s hurricane season.

Lesson Learned: Use Your Connections (Both Internal and External)

One of the best lessons learned from our call for submissions was to use your connections to your advantage during a hurricane crisis. Hurricanes can be especially disrupting if you have multiple locations. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, the business continuity team at Walgreens knew they had to assess the damages. Tyler Hough, Director of Business Continuity at Walgreens, explained that Walgreens got through it by using both internal and external connections in creative ways.

After Hurricane Maria there were no commercial flights heading to the island. This was a problem for the Walgreens team as they needed to assess damage so they could rebuild. Internally, the team worked together by breaking down silos. When department heads communicated they realized that the community affairs team was already sending down humanitarian supplies through a major airline. When the business continuity department found this out, they found it was the perfect opportunity to send team members down to assess the damage as well.

While this sounds like common sense, it’s important to remember that hurricanes throw all common sense out of the window. It‘s also important to remember that even in the most successful organizations communication isn’t always an easy task. Sometimes in businesses both large and small, we find ourselves silo-ing departments. However, when leaders in every department brainstorm together, solutions are sometimes easier to find.

What Else Your Colleagues are Focusing On

This lesson about collaboration and communication was one of the most common responses we got from the dozens of respondents who answered our call for tips.

Other lessons learned from major hurricanes like Maria, Irma, and Harvey included stocking supplies, using meteorologists and weather tools, and being flexible. We highly recommend reviewing this ebook every hurricane season to better prepare your organization.

If you missed our call for tips and have a story you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments below and we’ll include you in next year’s edition.

Other Business Continuity Hurricane Tips

Besides our crowd-sourced tips in our ebook, we have a few other general ideas. Typically, we recommend assessing your hurricane risks beforehand. What are your biggest areas of risk? Are you or any of your infrastructure located in a flood zone? Questions like these will help you prepare.

It’s also a good idea to back up your data. This especially easy when done on the cloud. Remember, power outages are extremely common both during and after hurricanes. Make sure you test your back up system as well!

Emergency kits are another easy way to prepare. Will folks be stuck at your business during a hurricane? If so, your kit should include:

  • Non-perishable food
  • Water
  • Batteries
  • Radios
  • First-aid kits

 

To access more of these basic tips, head over to our blog post: “5 Helpful Business Continuity Tips for Hurricane Season.” Remember, you‘ll only get industry-tested tips from our ebook so download that if you haven’t already and stay safe!