Does Your Facility Have an Emergency Natural Disaster Plan?

Preparation is key

Every time we turned on the news in 2017, it seemed like we were reading about another natural disaster.

Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Maria. Tornadoes, wildfires, and blizzards, all of them adding up to well over $200 billion in damage. And that’s not counting more localized catastrophes like sinkholes and earthquakes.

And now it’s 2018. The start of a new year is often a time to reflect on the old one, and to prepare for the months ahead. For property owners, this is particularly important to ensure your investment is protected to the best of your ability.

steps to prepare for natural disasters
Jacksonville, FL, USA – September 11, 2017; Flood waters engulf a parking garage in downtown Jacksonville, FL after Hurricane Irma took an unexpected turn and caused massive power outages and coastal flooding around the state.

No matter what form the devastation takes, it eventually ends and the rebuilding period begins. As a construction company with expertise in commercial and residential construction as well as construction consulting, we know it’s never easy to deal with property damage – especially on the level of a major natural disaster. We also understand how important it is to have a commercial facility disaster plan in place ahead of time.

Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your emergency facility maintenance and repair plan:

1. Take Advantage of Advance Notice

While not every natural disaster can be predicted, things like major winter storms and hurricanes are usually forecasted days in advance.

Commercial property owners can use that time make sure they have an evacuation plan for employees, tenants, and customers. From there, they can take commercial construction preventative maintenance steps to avoid or minimize storm damage.

For hurricanes, tropical storms or high winds

  • Secure any outdoor furniture or fixtures, or bring them inside
  • Activate storm shutters/doors, or lock and board up windows and doors
  • Disconnect the building’s power if possible
  • Secure sections of your property that are vulnerable to sustained winds or gusts
  • Properly elevate electronics and important items vulnerable to water damage in the event of flooding


For extreme winter weather

  • Make sure all vacant spaces are winterized to avoid frozen and/or burst pipes
  • Add temporary heating to run during sub-zero temperatures
  • Make sure all window and door seals are intact
  • Have your heating system serviced in late fall/early winter

 2. Prepare for Limited Resources (construction materials, electricity, fuel, and manpower)

Construction Materials

Lumber will likely be in short supply following an extreme weather disaster. Home improvement and construction supply stores might be closed, and road conditions could delay incoming shipments.

natural disaster preparation and recovery

Electricity, Fuel

Widespread power outages typically go hand-in-hand with major storms, which is why investing in a backup generator is a good idea. Gasoline supplies could be limited before, during and after a major storm and might be replenished until roadways are clear.


Local subcontractors will be in demand following many major storms. These workers — assuming they’re not dealing with storm damage to their own property — will be busy with calls, while dealing with the shortages noted above.

Having a maintenance contract with a local building services contractor is wise because it ensures you are at the top of their list following weather events.

If you don’t have a service contractor and reconstruction/repairs following a major weather event, hiring a reputable contractor from outside the area may be a good idea – though it may come at a premium.

aftermath of natural disaster

Property owners should be cautious when working with “pickup truck” contractors who inevitably descend on areas impacted by big storms. These storm chasers often disappear after a job, meaning you have no recourse if there are problems with the work.
As with any construction project, check the references of firm you hire for disaster recovery work.

3. Let the Recovery Begin

Once a disaster is over, take stock of the damage and begin repairs. If the damage to your commercial facility is significant enough to make an insurance claim, always have your insurance company come out to document the damage before making any repairs.

It is fine to take steps to secure your property after a storm — boarding up broken windows and dealing with urgent safety concerns — but your insurer will need  to do its own assessment to process a claim

We cannot predict or prevent every disaster comes our way, but we can take steps to ensure your commercial property is protected. Preparation is key. 2017 was a year full of disasters, and there’s no reason to conclude 2018 will be different. Are you ready?

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