Hurricane Prep for Businesses
At the height of Hurricane Season, it is important to be prepared. JEDCO has put together a Hurricane Prep Checklist for Jefferson Parish businesses, so you know what to do before, during and after a disaster. Stay safe and dry out there!
REGISTER FOR RE-ENTRY PLACARDS
- Re-Entry Plan: Jefferson Parish has developed a re-entry plan for key personnel and first responders, key businesses that are essential to recovery after the storm, and the general public.
- Business Owners: Don’t forget to sign up and register for your Re-Entry Placards. These Placards will allow you and your essential employees entry back into Jefferson Parish after a hurricane. You will have the ability to get your business back up and running for the return of Jefferson Parish citizens.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER A DISASTER
- Know Your Risk. Check your hurricane evacuation level and FEMA flood maps to determine if your business location is vulnerable to storm surge or freshwater flooding. Have your building(s) inspected by a licensed professional to find out if your workplace is vulnerable to hurricane force winds and what is recommended to retrofit.
- Take the Necessary Precautions. If a storm threatens, secure your building. Cover windows. Cover and move equipment/ furniture to a secured area.
- Always Protect Your Data with Backup Files. If dependent on data processing, consider an alternate site. Make provisions for alternate communications and power.
- Make Plans to Work With Limited Cash, No Water, Sewer or Power For Two Weeks. Store emergency supplies at the office.
- Protect Your Employees. Employee safety comes first! Prepare, distribute and discuss your business hurricane plan for recovery. Consider providing shelter to employees and their families and helping employees with supplies after the storm. Establish a rendezvous point and time for employees in case damage is severe and communications are disrupted. Establish a call-down procedure for warning and post-storm communications. Provide photo ID’s and a letter of authorization to enter the building.
- Contact Your Customers & Suppliers and share your communications and recovery plan in advance. Prepare a list of vendors to provide disaster recovery services.
- Review Your Insurance Coverage. Have your business appraised at least every five years. Inventory, document and photograph equipment, supplies and workplace. Have copies of insurance policies and customer service/home numbers. Obtain Business Interruption Insurance. Consider “Accounts Receivable” and “Valuable Papers” coverage and “Income Destruction” insurance. If you have a Business Owners Protection Package (BOPP), check the co-insurance provisions. Remember: Flood damage requires separate coverage and is NOT covered under other insurance programs.
- After the Storm. Use caution before entering your business. Check for power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. If any electrical equipment is wet, contact an electrician. Prepare loss information for insurance claims and get independent estimates of damages. Take pictures before cleanup. Minimize additional damage
CHECKLIST: AS THE STORM APPROACHES
- Sign up for the Jefferson Parish Community Alert System which allows officials to immediately contact you during a major crisis or emergency and can deliver important emergency alerts, notifications and updates to you on all of your devices. You can sign up for JPAlert by going to jeffparish.net and clicking on the JPAlert icon or by calling (504) 349-5360.
- Consider the COVID-19 Pandemic: Planning for a hurricane is always stressful, but with the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, it is even more so. Be sure to follow CDC guidelines when considering evacuation plans and stocking up on supplies. Take a look at the CDC’s Hurricane Prep Recommendations here.
- Listen for Weather Updates on local stations and on NOAA Weather Radio. Don’t trust rumors and stay turned to the latest information.
Check Your Disaster Supplies Kit at work. Obtain any needed items, including those needed during the pandemic such as soap, hand sanitizer and face coverings. Contact employees and instruct them to do the same.
Instruct Employees to Refill Prescriptions and to maintain at least a two-week supply during hurricane season.
Clear Property or tie down any items that could become flying missiles in high winds such as lawn furniture, potted plants, and trashcans.
Protect Windows and Glass Doors. If you do not have impact resistant windows, install shutters or plywood to cover glass. Brace double entry and garage doors at the top and bottom.
Fill Fleet Cars and Equipment Gas Tanks and check oil, water and tires. Gas pumps don’t operate without electricity.
Obtain Sufficient Cash for business operations recognizing that banks and ATMs won’t be in operation without electricity and few stores will be able to accept credit cards or personal checks.
Discuss the Business Recovery Plan with Employees to ensure that communications are up-to-date and employees are aware of their responsibilities after the storm.
Back Up All Computer Data and ensure that back up is stored in a safe place off-site.
Close the Office in sufficient time to allow employees to secure their homes, obtain needed supplies and evacuate if necessary.
CHECKLIST: NO EVACUATION
If your facility is outside the evacuation area and NOT a work trailer, your facility may be able to remain open or serve as shelter for employees.
- Protect Windows and Doors and secure the facility.
- Clean Containers for Drinking Water and sinks for storing cleaning water. Plan on three gallons per person, per day for all uses.
- Offering Your Facility as Shelter to Employees and their families who live in vulnerable areas or mobile homes will have benefits to your operations but may also have some liability. Check first with legal representation.
- Check the Disaster Supplies Kit. Make sure to have at least a two-week supply of non-perishable foods. Don’t forget a non-electric can opener. Instruct any employees to augment the supply with a kit of their own.
- During the Storm, everyone should stay inside and away from windows, skylights and glass doors. Find a safe area in the facility (an interior reinforced room, closet or bathroom on the lower floor) if the storm becomes severe.
- Wait for Official Word That The Danger Is Over. Don’t be fooled by the storm’s calm “eye.”
- If Flooding Threatens Your Facility, electricity should be turned off at the main breaker.
- If Your Facility Loses Power, turn off major appliances, such as the air conditioner and water heater to reduce damage.
IF EVACUATING: SECURE YOUR FACILITY
Stay tuned to the local radio and television stations for emergency broadcasts. If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Ensure Important Documents, files, back up tapes, emergency contact information, etc., are taken to a safe location.
- Let Employees, Customers and Vendors know your continuity plans. Make sure your employees have a safe ride.
- Turn Off electricity, water and gas.
- Lock windows and doors.
CHECKLIST: AFTER THE STORM
After a disaster, the business may be without power, water, food or any of the services we rely on. Immediate response may not be possible, so residents and businesses must be prepared to be self-reliant for several weeks.
- Be Patient. Access to affected areas will be controlled. You won’t be able to return to your facility until search and rescue operations are complete and safety hazards, such as downed trees and power lines are cleared. It may take up to three days for emergency crews to reach your area. It may take 2-4 weeks before utilities are restored. On barrier islands, it could take much longer.
- Stay Tuned to Local Radio stations for advice and instructions about emergency medical aid, food and other forms of assistance.
- Security Operations Will Include Checkpoints. It will be critical for you and your employees to have valid identification with your current local address as well as something to prove your employment and need to get back into the area. Be sure to have your Re-Entry Placard with you. It is recommended that businesses contact the county emergency management agency and local jurisdiction to determine what specifically would be required.
- Avoid Downed or Dangling Utility Wires. Metal fences may have been “energized” by fallen wires. Be especially careful when cutting or clearing fallen trees. They may have power lines tangled in them.
- Enter Your Facility with Caution. Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry the building.
- If There Has Been Flooding, have an electrician inspect the office before turning on the breaker.
- Be Careful with Fire. Do not strike a match until you are sure there are no breaks in gas lines. Avoid candles. Use battery-operated flashlights and lanterns instead.
- Use Your Telephone Only for Emergencies to keep lines open for emergency communications.
- Make Temporary Repairs to correct safety hazards and minimize further damage. This may include covering holes in the roof, wall or windows and debris removal.
- Protect Yourself from Contactor Fraud. Only hire licensed contractors to do repairs. Check with the local Building Department to ensure the contractor is licensed. If you hire a contractor, don’t pull the permits for them. If the contractor makes this request, it may be an indication that he is not properly licensed.
- Take Photographs of All Damage before repairs and keep receipts for insurance purposes.
- After Assessing Damage to Your Facility, contact your local building department for information on required building permits. Permits are always required for any kind of demolition or permanent repairs, reconstruction, roofing, filling, and other types of site development. Report illegal flood plain development to your local building department.
- Local Ordinances Do Not Permit Dumping in drainage canals or ditches because it causes backups and overflow in the system. Report illegal dumping.
Connect with Jefferson Parish Emergency Management for additional details regarding Hurricane/Hazard Preparedness.
See the latest Hurricane Updates on the Jefferson Parish website here. Text JPALERT to 888-777 for updates during severe weather events.
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