Hurricane Matthew (as with all disasters) taught some excellent lessons

Hurricane Matthew, a category 5 hurricane that hit the Western Atlantic for nearly two weeks last month, is an unwelcome reminder of the importance of business continuity planning and preparedness. In any disaster, there are many lessons to learn for all persons and organizations involved. Here we look at Hurricane Matthew to highlight some lessons we can all take away to enhance business continuity planning for not just hurricanes, but incidents of any kind.

Effects

For those who didn’t follow Hurricane Matthew, it’s effects were great and widespread. Wind gusts up to 107 mph were measured at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and water levels rose up to eight feet above normal levels as a result of the storm surge. In addition, some areas reported up to 14 inches of rainfall, increasing flood risks and impacts miles from the coastline.

It is therefore no surprise that directly inside Hurricane Matthew’s impact zone, many immediate effects might inhibit business operations:

  • Roads and bridges washed out, affecting staff, goods transport, and more
  • Buildings flooded – these could be businesses, or the homes of employees
  • Downed power and telephone lines can be widespread and affect businesses and their nearby alternate sites
  • Fallen trees could damage buildings and vehicles, close roads and more
  • Flight cancellations can interrupt staff travel or transport of products
  • Trains may be held on tracks, routes interrupted and delivery or pick-up dates delayed

Business Impacts

These are all impacts that businesses have had to face during, and after, Hurricane Matthew. If you are not directly within the impact zone, you might be wondering “How does this affect my business?”. Supply chain disruptions can drastically affect businesses whose materials and supplies come from the east coast.  Additionally, businesses with multiple locations may have to assist in the recovery of those within the impact zone.  This can result in staffing shortages, overtime and increased stress.  Planning for how to assist other locations is important and solutions can range from moving call-centre volume in advance of a disaster, coordinating additional shift rotations, hiring additional temporary staff, and more.

But what about those businesses affected?  We know Hurricane Matthew triggered their Business Continuity Plans and they are busy picking up the pieces. Often the focus of recovery is on physical repairs, leaving the company’s administration and operations on the back burner.

Insurance Claims

With such large scale storms, managing the insurance claims process is vital.  Here are a few things to remember:

  • Understand the policy, and the jargon. Before any chance of having to rely on insurance comes to pass, it is extremely important to understand the policies your business holds. As a business can have many types of insurance, there will be many policies to become familiar with. This leads to;
  • A false sense of security. When you do not understand your policy there can be an exaggerated sense of comfort and preparedness. However, not knowing the ins and outs of the policies can also lead to lost insurance claims through missed reporting and documentation of losses. Therefore, it is critical to;
  • Document losses. Physical losses and any lost revenues from business interruptions and contingent business interruptions may be covered by insurance. These can include losses due to road closures, evacuations and any closures required by civil authorities. Having proof of revenues during normal operations can help document the loss during contingent business interruptions.

In addition to processing insurance claims, government aid and grants may be available to help businesses recover and rebuild. Registering for these types of aid and assistance is often time-sensitive. Researching what would be available to you regionally and nationally can save critical time during an incident, ensuring you can access this funding when you would need it most.

So, in summary, here are some “lessons learned” from Hurricane Matthew:

  1. Carefully consider how a disaster of this nature can and would impact your business.
  2. Consider your supply chain for all goods and services. Would a disaster like this impact the resources you rely on most to support your operations?
  3. How would another office or location be able to support you in an incident?  Are you be able to support them? What steps can you take now to make that process easier in the future?
  4. Know your insurance policies. Avoid surprises and get all the compensation you are entitled to.
  5. Access aid and assistance to help you fund your recovery and speed up your return to normal operations

About KingsBridge

KingsBridgeBCP offers businesses of all sizes BCP Software Solutions and industry know how based on best practices.  We help build, exercise, and maintain Business Continuity Plans. Our services and software packages are customized to meet the wide range of our customers’ needs, ensuring we deliver the best value in every project. To learn more click here or check out our Services.

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