June 1st marked the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. This year’s extended-range forecast published in April by Colorado State University research scientist Dr. Philip Klotzbach anticipates above-average activity. His forecast for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season predicts sixteen named storms including eight hurricanes with four 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 69 percent, the U.S. East Coast (including the Florida peninsula) as 45 percent, and the Gulf Coast as 44 percent.
Those who have experienced a catastrophic storm can attest to the importance of Dr. Klotzbach’s warning to property owners that “it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them.” Considering the added challenges business owners are facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, this is sound advice.
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 your managers and employees.
• Training – Provide ongoing training for your 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 to keep a copy of the list on your person when severe weather is imminent. Contacts should include carrier names, addresses, phone numbers, and policy numbers for each of your insurance policies as well as contact numbers for employees, local police, medical facilities, utilities, and other emergency contacts.
• Insurance – Contact your insurance agent to ensure that storm- and disaster-related exposures are addressed by your policy. Review your building values, deductibles, and business interruption coverage. The time to address potential financial exposures is before you have a claim, not in the wake of a catastrophic loss.
• Maintenance – Perform maintenance tasks that can help minimize property damage in the event of severe weather such as trimming trees, scheduling roof inspections, and removing loose debris that could become a dangerous missile in high winds.
• Vendor Supply Chain – Identify vendors and contractors in your area and talk to them about securing priority response for your facility in the aftermath of a catastrophic event. This step has a higher level of importance this year. Due to the economic challenges faced by businesses during the pandemic, a vendor’s availability and resource capacity may have changed.
• 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. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers resources for business owners at http://www.ready.gov/business. Don’t be caught off guard by a hurricane or severe weather. Protect your employees, customers, and business investment by taking steps now to be prepared for a future emergency.
President and CEO