After any severe natural disaster, many people are left wondering how to start picking up the pieces, literally and figuratively. If you're a business owner, you have to worry about repairing your home and your commercial property – your livelihood. If your building experienced severe water damage, use these hurricane damage recovery tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore to get your business up and running as soon as possible.
Safety should always be your number one priority – business owner or not. Even after the rain stops and the flood water begins to recede, the dangers of flooding still loom.
Steps To Restore Your Business - Post-Hurricane
After you're given the OK to reenter your place of business, follow these steps to safely examine the damages and start your commercial property's recovery and restoration.
- Safety first. Avoid driving or even walking in flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and rapidly moving water can sweep your vehicle away. You may not be able to see potential electrical hazards, gas leaks, and water contaminants with an untrained eye, which is why you should avoid entering your property until an inspector determines the structure is safe. Please do not assume someone else has already contacted them.
- Wear Safety Gear. If your property survived the storm, it might have some battle scars. Since there will likely be debris, broken glass, and flood water inside, you'll need to wear the proper protective gear during the cleanup, including gloves, closed-toe shoes, and possibly waders. Cover any exposed skin to reduce the risk of scratches, cuts, and infection.
- Check the power. When you return to your business, turn off the power to your building if you can reach the breaker box safely, or ask your power company to cut power remotely. Standing water can create an electrical shock hazard.
- Check the structure. If your frame or foundation appears unstable, do not attempt to go inside. Instead, immediately call for professional help and get a thorough assessment of the damage. Water damage after a hurricane can cause walls, ceilings, and floors to swell, decay, or collapse.
- Take inventory. Photograph and document all damage to your facility and belongings to support future insurance claims. After documenting the extent of the damage, you can begin cleanup and extract, dry, and attempt to restore as many items as you can safely reach.
- Clear Rubble and Salvage What You Can. Remove unharmed or repairable items and store them in a safe, dry place until your building restoration is complete. If the rest of the debris is safe to handle, clear away the rubble so you can begin repairs. Make minor fixes, but don't be afraid to ask for help.
- Contact your insurance agent. As soon as possible after a storm, contact your insurance company or representative to check your coverage and start filing a claim.
The best defense is a good offense. Follow these tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore® to create the best preparedness plan for your organization.
Tips For Emergency Preparedness At Your Business
1. Prepare Your Employees. Open up your flood PrepareAthon with thoughtful discussions with your team. First, improve your organization's knowledge about flooding basics by discussing the differences between flood watches, warnings, and evacuation notices. Emphasize the importance of your employees adhering to these notices, which are issued by the National Weather Service and state and local governments. Next, turn your discussion to how your employees should handle a flood. Establish a communication plan that allows organizational leaders to reach out to employees, updating them on any business or road closures and ensuring each employee is safe. For example, a text-messaging system can be highly effective should phone lines go down during a flood.
2. Collect Emergency Supplies. Stock your office with an emergency preparedness kit in case of a flood. These kits will become especially useful should your facility lose power or should employees become stranded on site. Encourage each employee to create a preparedness kit, which should include enough supplies to live on for three days. In addition to bottled water and non-perishable food, this kit can also have a battery-operated radio, flashlight, and batteries in the event of power loss. Employees should keep a kit at work, at home, and even in their car to ensure they will have the right supplies on hand if they face rising waters.
3. Establish a Plan for Technology and Important Documents. While protecting your employees is paramount, ensuring your technology and important documents survive the flood is also essential. Losing your organization's technical systems and data can be costly and inhibit company productivity. If your facility has more than one floor, move your computers and printers to higher ground. Ensure all electronic devices are unplugged and raised off the floor to minimize water damage. Please keep a record of the serial numbers of all technology devices so that you can file a claim with your insurance provider should they become damaged or destroyed. If your organization houses many paper documents, start creating electronic backups now. Store this backup data offsite in the event of a flood. If you have a limited number of paper documents, FEMA encourages you to store them in a flood-proof box and move them to higher ground.
4. Conduct Logistical Planning. It's essential to know precisely how to react when a flood threatens. Long before waters rise, create a flood plan that identifies the roles and responsibilities of each team member. For example, your IT department might be responsible for unplugging computers and moving them to higher ground. At the same time, an HR representative might be the person sending communications about flood-related closures for employees. Deciding how you will handle a flood threat long before it occurs allows you to create a focused and effective plan that will be easy to implement under more stressful conditions. If you live in a hurricane-prone region, this logistical planning can coincide with developing a hurricane preparedness plan.
5. Run Mock Scenarios. Take that logistical planning one step further by running mock scenarios for a flood. FEMA recommends creating different flood-related scenarios and presenting them to your team. Allow them to troubleshoot the challenges and devise an effective flood preparation plan. Encourage critical thinking by asking employees how they react at different stages, such as when a flood watch is issued or when traditional communication systems are rendered inoperable due to rising waters. Presenting different scenarios offers another layer of preparation that will give your organization confidence should an actual flooding event occur. The more you prepare, the safer your business will be – both during a storm and after one hit. Follow our tips to build your flood preparedness plan today, and then use the resources from America's PrepareAthon to get more ideas on community emergency preparedness. Read the ServiceMaster Restore blog to prepare your business for other storms and emergencies, including tornados and blizzards.
Understanding what to do after a hurricane can help you get back on your feet much quicker once the storm has passed. If you don't know where to start after hurricane damage hits, call the experts at ServiceMaster Restore®. Our restoration professionals are ready to help 24/7/365 with our genuine commitment to guide you from crisis to resolution after any disaster.
Our restoration professionals are ready to help 24/7/365 with our genuine commitment to guide you from crisis to resolution after any disaster. Call us at 1-800-RESPOND.