When hurricanes strike, the news and narrative tend to focus on evacuating residents and trying to protect their homes. However, the fact of the matter is that businesses get impacted, too (and sometimes, to a devastating degree). If yours is one of them, then you may be feeling lost and uncertain of where or who to turn to next. This article will go over the key components of starting and following through with the recovery process. Knowing how to pick up the pieces and rebuild your business following a hurricane helps you get back on your feet.
Communication is critical in any aspect of life, and it becomes especially critical after a natural disaster. Organizations and individuals are ready, willing, and able to help – however, they rely on you to contact them, so it is important to be proactive and take the first step in reaching out for help. If you are unsure who to contact, you can start with the local authorities, as they have the resources to help a wide variety of people in sometimes unexpected ways. Depending on your circumstances, they may provide further assistance or point you in the right direction. If your business location has been severely damaged, you can reach out to a charity such as the Red Cross, or perhaps a construction company to help clear away the debris. (Please note that not every service is going to come free).
Contact any neighbors that you need to get in touch with, consult vendors, and keep in touch with all your employees. In particular, this is a time when you need to make sure your own employees are safe from the storm. Keep them informed regularly about everything that’s going on. They’re likely going to be wondering how many shifts they might lose out on, and some might even wonder if they’ll get to come back to their jobs at all.
Assess the Damage
As soon as you can safely and legally access the physical premises of your business, do so for an initial analysis of the potential damage and loss. Be aware of any loose nails, shattered glass, precariously positioned items, or protruding sharp objects. It would be wise to take extra precautions by wearing thick boots, suitable gloves, long-sleeve clothing, and safety glasses while walking around your site. Remember to prioritize things properly here. A full inventory of your assets can wait, but you should bring in a hurricane roofer to fix storm damage to the top of your building. And of course, if there are any plumbing issues or water leaks that could lead to further damage, those should be taken care of as soon as possible.
Once the most important concerns regarding safety and damage have been addressed to the overall structure, you can turn your attention to your inventory.
Contact Your Insurance
As soon as you can, it is important to get an insurance inspector or agent out to your property to start their process of filing claims. The process can take a while depending on the circumstances, and it is best to get the ball rolling right away. Insurance coverage is going to be the primary way you will recover from the financial losses of this upsetting event. The sooner your claim is filed, the sooner you’ll have funds and contractors to restore what’s left of your business and replace the rest.
Plot Your Timeline
Naturally, you will want to open your business back up as soon as you can. For many people, their business is their lifeline and how they support themselves and their families. Unfortunately, however, it is necessary to recognize that you won’t likely be able to get your business up and running again right away. Indeed, it may take a little bit of time. Hurricane damage is nothing that can be fixed overnight. Additionally, it is likely that a full accounting of the damage will take weeks and potentially months for an insurance company to calculate, assess, and pay out. Track every element of restoring your business to full safety and capacity, and never rush anything. Be patient, and your doors will open again.
If your business has data backed up online, then you should make sure that it’s still there and is accessible in case your local files were lost in the storm. (If your data wasn’t backed up online, then let this be a learning experience for your business on how important having protected data storage is.) Also, this is a good time to update your website. For a bit of time, your website might be the only way you can let customers know that your business is not only coming back but also when.
Building a business up and seeing it get broken down is a difficult and trying experience for any business owner. It is especially frustrating when it is the result of something completely beyond your control. Rebuilding your business following a major storm is hopefully something you never have to do twice. However, if you rebuild right the first time, then you’ll be in a better position to withstand future storms, considering how hurricane-prone areas are seeing more severe storms and just a higher quantity of storms overall. This is a fine opportunity to upgrade your business location’s physical quality and if you can afford it, add features such as shutter windows to help mitigate damage should a hurricane happen again in the future.