Hurricane season officially begins June 1st, but predictions for the season are already being made. In his team’s extended range forecast for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, Colorado State University research scientist Dr. Philip Klotzbach anticipates slightly below-normal activity with thirteen named storms including five hurricanes with two classified as major hurricanes (Category 3-5). In addition, this forecast estimates the probability of a major hurricane landfall on the entire U.S. coastline as 48 percent, the U.S. East Coast (including the Florida peninsula) as 31 percent, and the Gulf Coast as 28 percent.
While this year’s forecast may bring a sigh of relief to business owners, it’s important to point out that last year’s hurricane activity exceeded Dr. Klotzbach’s predictions in the categories of named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes. He reminds property owners that “it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them.” Any property owner who experienced Hurricanes Florence or Michael last year can attest to the importance of this warning.
Plan Ahead Now for Hurricane Season
Self-storage business owners in coastal areas are encouraged to act now to prepare for severe weather. The first step is to create an emergency preparedness plan, a basic requirement for all businesses regardless of location. Once the plan has been developed, it is important to communicate it to managers and employees.
- Training – Provide ongoing training for staff to familiarize them with the plan’s key elements and procedures including shelter-in-place provisions and post-storm safety considerations.
- Emergency Contacts and Documentation – Assemble a list of important contact information and keep it in a secure location away from the facility premises. It’s a good idea for the owner or manager to keep a copy of the list on their person when severe weather is imminent. Contacts should include carrier names, addresses, phone numbers, and policy numbers for each insurance policy as well as contact numbers for employees, local police, medical facilities, utilities, and other emergency contacts.
- Insurance – Set up a meeting with your clients to review their policy and ensure that storm- and disaster-related exposures are addressed. Review building values, deductibles, and business interruption coverage. The time to address potential financial exposures is before a claim occurs, not in the wake of a catastrophic loss.
- Vendor Supply Chain – Advise your clients to identify vendors and contractors in their area and talk to them about their ability to respond following a catastrophic event. It may be possible to make arrangements with these businesses to secure priority response for the facility in the aftermath of a catastrophic event.
- Customer Contact Information – Keep an electronic record of customer contact data such as email addresses and telephone numbers in order to provide pre- and post-storm communications about accessibility at the self-storage facility and related issues.
A detailed hurricane action plan prepared by Liberty Mutual Insurance, one of MiniCo’s carriers, is available for download at http://www.minico.com/hurricaneplan. In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers many valuable online resources for business owners at http://www.ready.gov/business. Resources include insurance coverage review forms, checklists, communication plans, and other preparedness documents. Make sure your clients aren’t caught off guard by a hurricane, severe weather, or natural disaster by providing them with timely information and guidance.
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