Hurricanes get names. Floods do not. Nor do the torrential rains that can linger long after the winds die down.
"It's common to overlook the potential for flooding during a hurricane," explains Katherine Klosowski, vice president and manager of natural hazards at FM Global. "Yet flood damage can be much worse." And, that damage can be exacerbated by the current pandemic where personnel may be off-site or supplies may be limited.
Flood often follows hurricanes for two reasons: storm surge from the ocean and extreme rainfall from the storm. "The rainfall can extend far beyond the eye of the hurricane and is often measured in feet instead of inches," says Klosowski.
Klosowski offers steps to take to prepare for Act II of a hurricane—to help minimize damage from the waters that follow.
Before the flood
Simple actions can have a big impact to reduce flood damage.
- Revise the emergency response plan in light of personnel/supply shortages or restrictions with the pandemic.
- Install flood gates or perimeter barriers outside the building if possible.
- Protect the most vulnerable areas such as electrical/utility rooms and data centers.
- Elevate stock and other valuables to tabletops, shelves or upper floors—depending on the anticipated water height.
- Follow normal equipment safety-shutdown procedures.
- Isolate electrical and flammable-liquid or gas equipment.
- Turn off power supplies.
After the flood
Consider actions to take after the event.
- Clean and dry—or dispose of—all flood-exposed items.
- Dry the structure quickly and thoroughly to prevent mold.
The sooner restoration begins, the better. Buildings and contents that remain wet or damp will have more damage than those that are dried and restored immediately.
To help businesses prepare for flood, FM Global provides its Flood Emergency Response Plan free of charge to the public. Knowing how to respond to flood can determine whether your company is closed or open for business.
Klosowski sums it up: "Good is not good enough when Mother Nature has bigger plans. Resilient companies prepare to withstand her wrath."
Download the FM Global Flood Emergency Response Plan. Complete it. Practice it. Use it to help keep flood at bay.
A well-planned flood emergency response plan should include:
- One person who has the ultimate authority to activate the flood emergency response plan; redirect production resources; and, ultimately, shut down operations if necessary.
- Procedures to safely shut down equipment and isolate electrical equipment.
- Procedures to raise and/or relocate key equipment and material.
- Plans to prevent water from entering key areas and/or entire buildings.
- Plans to take care of employees and their families, if flood fight is prolonged.
- Knowledge of which employees are unlikely to be unaffected by flood.
- Inclusion of post-flood repair and business recovery plans.
- Regular training procedures.
- Revisions as changes occur to situation (e.g., personnel and business activities).
Make sure you know how long the plan will take to put into effect. It's essential to balance available warning time and resources.