Advice on compound disasters from member Hub International Florida

Update Your Business’ Preparedness Plan Today Ahead of a Compound Disaster

By Scott Fouts

COVID-19 has significantly impacted many aspects of your business. Throw a hurricane into the mix and you’ve got a compound disaster. Prepare your business and facility, or facilities, for a hurricane amid COVID-19.

As hurricane season begins, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact and disrupt operations, businesses must plan for a potential compound disaster.
A compound disaster is two or more disaster events that come together creating additional and increasingly complex response and recovery challenges, as each disaster amplifies the effect of the other.

From remote, decentralized work forces to financial constraints and potential supply chain disruption, it is critical to consider all potential issues from both COVID-19 and a hurricane when creating business plan for a compound disaster.

Business Considerations for a Hurricane + COVID-19
Businesses must assess and adjust their preparedness plans in the midst of the new normal. This will require anticipating new ways of responding to compound events and activating contingency plans sooner.

With foreseeable events like a hurricane, it’s never been more important to respond as quickly as you have actionable information. In the past, many have waited until the last minute to evacuate or close a business due to forecasted storms. With COVID-19, new variables in disaster response will be present that have previously not existed. Businesses must anticipate needing more time to prepare, evacuate and respond to a hurricane. Here’s what to consider.

Review your internal emergency plans. If everyone is working remotely, or your offices are partially closed, how will your crisis management team need to communicate differently? Reassess your emergency communications strategy to account for decentralized staff, possible absenteeism, employee illness, or those that no longer have access to childcare.

Register for notifications from additional reliable sources. Sign up for and monitor real-time alerts from federal and local agencies and authorities including FEMA, the CDC, the WHO and the American Red Cross as well as local emergency services, utilities and media.

Be realistic about disruptions in supply chain and essential services. Anticipate and prepare for extended downtimes and longer wait for restoration of services, as essential workers may already be stretched thin due to COVID-19. Similarly, supply chains and transportation options have already been significantly disrupted – a hurricane will add another dimension. Augment your original disaster and business continuity plans for the new challenges.

Anticipate challenges to establishing back-up office space. With the threat of an impending hurricane, businesses will often move their operations temporarily. With COVID-19, you’ll need to consider the same social distancing requirements, personal protective equipment needs and enhanced cleaning in a temporary location.

Compound disasters can be devastating for businesses that aren’t prepared. Talk to your broker and risk services specialist today to find out what coverage you have, and understand your policy limits and exclusions. Knowing what you are covered for will help in your disaster planning and when forced to make critical decisions at the height of the compound disaster.

About the author:
Scott Fouts is Vice President of global insurance brokerage Hub International’s Risk Services Division. He has 17 years of experience in occupational safety, health, and risk management consulting. He spent 15 years on the carrier side of the business providing risk management, safety, property, product liability, environmental, business continuity, fleet, claims, and industrial hygiene services.