Preparing for and Responding to Hurricane Irene
Published: 25-Aug- 2011 | Category: Resources
As Hurricane Irene approaches the East coast of the United States, clients with business interests in potentially affected regions should begin planning for the storm’s effects as soon as possible.
A major hurricane, even if the center stays offshore, brings torrential rains and powerful winds which can cause severe property damage, service interruptions, and flooding. Below are steps that risk managers and business owners can take to protect their assets and operations.
In advance of the storm:
- Follow local media reports to stay current with the storm’s progress and any advisory and mandatory evacuation orders. Assemble emergency response teams to review plans and decision timelines.
- Check the availability of key personnel and agree on when to close the facility and the time required to shut down operations and evacuate personnel. To ensure safety of personnel, no one should be allowed to remain on site unless approved by local authorities, and personnel should stay clear of low-lying coastal areas. Remain in contact with employees and ensure that contact lists are current.
- Identify, back up, and/or relocate vital records. Cover valuable equipment, furniture, and other property susceptible to water damage.
- Identify any suppliers that might be affected by the storm, review contingency plans, and make alternative arrangements as needed.
- Check all emergency and communications equipment, including generators and radios. Ensure that generators will start automatically and that power transfers properly. Fill oil and fuel tanks to capacity. Verify that all fire protection equipment and systems are in service.
- Relocate, as required, any hazardous materials that could react with water.
- Inspect rooftop air-handling units, edging strips, gutters, and flashing to ensure that all are securely fastened. Remove anything from the roof that is not secured. Inspect exterior sign supports, guy wires, and anchorages; secure as necessary. Check grounds for any loose or unsecured items; if it isn’t bolted down, move it inside. Check roof, floor, and yard drains to ensure they are clear and unobstructed.
- Install and secure storm shutters on all exterior openings. If windows can’t be covered, tape windows to minimize the flying-glass hazard.
- Address access to your site after the storm. In extreme conditions, this will be controlled by public authorities. Assemble supplies for the emergency response team. Items to consider are portable lights, lumber and nails, tape for windows, roofing paper, sandbags, tarpaulins, chain saws, rakes, and shovels.
When the storm is imminent:
- Conduct an orderly shutdown of computers, communications, and process equipment.
- Disconnect nonessential equipment to protect it from potential power surges.
- Elevate materials and equipment off of the floor where possible.
During the storm:
- Monitor the storm by radio.
- No one should go outside—even if the “eye” should pass over your site.
After the storm:
- Identify immediate hazards such as downed electrical lines, leaking gas, or flammable liquids. Such hazards should be cordoned off, and authorities should be notified.
- Control ignition sources if there is leakage of gas or flammable liquids.
- Restore fire protection systems.
- Restore security systems.
- Check electrical systems and equipment for water damage. If they have been exposed to water, keep them turned off until they have been dried, cleaned, and approved for start-up.
- Begin salvage operations as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Clean up debris, and begin drying out.
- Assess damage. Notify your risk manager or insurance claims professional.
- Verify the safety status of employees and initiate related human resource processes.
- Assess the status of suppliers and activate contingency plans as necessary.
Businesses should not overlook the potential for flooding, which can pose greater financial and social tolls than those of the storms that produced them. The impact of floods, like other natural disasters, can be lessened by an effective emergency plan and flood control measures. When flooding is forecast, assemble your flood emergency team and review the following guidelines.
- Walk along dikes or floodwalls and visually inspect conditions.
- Ensure that flood doors or gates and back-flow drain valves are accessible and in good condition.
- Check tracks and hinges on doors and gates to ensure they work.
- Protect ramps and doors to basements; seal doors, yard-level grates, and air intakes.
- Clear storm drains and check back-flow valves.
- Repair broken windows.
- Ensure that sump pumps are operational.
- Anchor aboveground tanks and drums.
- Fill or anchor pools and underground tanks.
- Relocate hazardous materials away from platforms, sheds and remote buildings; secure drums containing hazardous materials to prevent their floating off property.
- Relocate trucks, trailers, pallets, stock and yard equipment.
- Have a schedule to close main gas valves, deactivate boilers and electrical energy.
- Protect and de-energize yard, basement transformers, and emergency generators.
- Identify critical electrical equipment for deactivation or relocation, including large motors, computers, and critical data.
- Do not deactivate automatic fire protection equipment. Contact fire department for instructions.
- Check flood prevention supplies (chains, tarps, etc.).
For more information and guidance on how to prepare for and respond to Hurricane Irene and other storms, please refer to:
- Marsh’s Hurricane Preparedness and Response Checklist
- Marsh’s Hurricane Preparedness and Response Checklist for Sheltering
- Marsh’s Tropical Cyclone CAT Briefing
Marsh’s property risk, business continuity, and crisis management experts are available to assist clients with any necessary preparations as well as post-event.
Marsh’s local dedicated claims team and client executives can also support clients in their business recovery in the event that they are impacted. The local teams are supported by our regional and international claims teams, including a team of specialists for large or complex claims. To file a claim, contact your client executive or send an email to the appropriate address listed below:
U.S. East: East.email@example.com
U.S. Central: Central.firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. West: West.email@example.com
If you have business interests in the affected area, would like assistance with property inspections or a review of your business continuity planning, or have questions regarding your insurance cover, please contact your local Marsh relationship manager or call:
- The Marsh Catastrophe Hotline at +1 866 252 7492; or
- Marsh Risk Consulting’s hotline at +1 212 345 9589 (866 928 7475 within the U.S. and Canada).
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