Preparing Your Business for the Next Hurricane Dorian

Steve Bassine

Learn about the first step your business should take to prepare for natural disasters.

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On September 1st, Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas before tearing a path towards the U.S. east coast, making a second landfall on Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Currently, the death toll stands at 50, while the devastation to homes, businesses and public utilities, particularly on Great Abaco Island, has been unprecedented.

According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, expected annual damage from hurricanes will amount to .22 percent of GDP or $39 billion by 2075. As Dorian demonstrated, hurricanes and major weather events remain a significant threat to residents and businesses operating in vulnerable areas. In preparation, companies must ensure that their operations can withstand an unprecedented business disruption and be ready for the next Dorian.

An important first step for any company is to develop a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). How would a catastrophic event impact your operations? How will your employees work? Will your supply chain be disrupted and for how long? Business continuity response processes, procedures, and personnel responsibilities ensure that you can save recovery costs, business revenues, and even people’s lives.

The BCP and Corporate Leadership

Every organization is unique and requires a tailored BCP to suit their needs. A well-developed plan should be able to sustain the viability of the affected businesses while ensuring the continuity of, and safeguarding of key business interests, relationships, and assets.

The primary purpose of a BCP is to minimize operational, regulatory, financial, and reputational impacts of a significant business disruption to accelerate the time frame to return to “business as usual”. At the base level there are core elements company leadership should champion when developing their BCP. Whether you’re running a manufacturing company, oil rig, or restaurant, leadership should:

  • Support budget allocations for the BCP program
  • Appoint key personnel to lead the program
  • Ensure the BCP team is staffed and fully trained to implement the plan
  • Provide the resources necessary to maintain an up-to date program that accounts for any site-specific changes to facilities, personnel, or processes
  • Provide ancillary support and resources to implement the BCP process and recovery strategies

Once an initial BCP is developed, company leadership should continually support plan evaluations that account for evolving operations, potential disrupting scenarios, and identified vulnerabilities. If new vulnerabilities or threats are identified, the BCP should be updated to address those newly identified variables.

The Business Continuity Plan

When effectively developed, tested and accessible, a business continuity plan can address operational disruptions of key business resources. At a minimum, it should cover your facilities or workspaces, supply chain, IT infrastructure and your employees.

Site specific recovery strategies should be developed with the assumption that the disruption will occur during the peak business cycle, when the services or output are at the highest level and most critical point.

As development in coastal areas and global warming increases, more businesses should expect to be affected by extreme weather events. BCP managers should be vigilant and regularly monitor incidents that may cause a business disruption or have a serious impact to operations. We can help you develop an effective BCP and prepare you for any emergency.

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