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Risk in Context

Take These Steps Before, During, and After a Flood to Protect Your Business

Posted by Duncan Ellis January 07, 2016

Heavy snowfall and rain have brought flooding to many parts of the US, with predictions for continued floods along the Mississippi and other rivers. Some experts are concerned the floods could rival those in the Midwest in 1993, which caused an estimated $15 billion in damage.

As the floods and recovery play out in the coming days and weeks, following are some reminders of risk mitigation and recovery steps to keep in mind.

BEFORE THE FLOOD

Ensure you have an emergency communication plan in place, including an alert notification system for all stakeholders.

  1. Have all employee, vendor, and client contact information on hand.
  2. Take all necessary steps to prevent the release of any dangerous chemicals stored on your property.
  3. Locate gas mains and electrical shut-offs.
  4. Postpone receipt of goods, deliveries, and couriers.
  5. Review insurance policies to verify deductibles and sublimits.
  6. Identify meeting place(s) and time(s) for key employees on crisis management team.
  7. Pre-record a voice mail message and consider redirecting business phones to cellular lines, answering services, or alternate locations.
  8. Update disaster recovery kits and begin crisis backup procedures.
  9. Maintain an accurate inventory of onsite products.
  10. Use plugs to prevent floodwater from backing up into sewer drains, or install flood vents/or flood-proof barriers.
  11. Stay tuned to local media and community messaging systems.

DURING THE FLOOD

Keep in mind that employee safety is paramount. Take these measures to help ensure colleagues aren’t harmed:

  1. Send unneeded staff home.
  2. During an evacuation, have a central point of contact for employees, and ensure you know where they are located.
  3. Avoid driving when possible. Cars can lose traction, stall, or be carried away by flood waters.
  4. Implement your business continuity plan.
  5. Raise elevators to the second floor and turn them off.
  6. Follow local media: Evacuate when required.
  7. Carry cell phones, chargers, and emergency kits.
  8. Take precautions on site such as removing critical hardware and unplugging electrical items.

AFTER THE FLOOD

  1. Notify employees and all critical stakeholders of next steps.
  2. Be aware of the safety of the community’s water supply.
  3. Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage; or may be electrically charged from power lines.
  4. Be aware where floodwaters have receded as roads may have weakened.
  5. Clean and disinfect everything that got wet.
  6. Implement your disaster recovery plan, and monitor local authorities.
  7. Contact employees and discuss next steps.
  8. Contact your insurance advisor if you have ingress/egress, civil authority, service interruption, or direct physical damage impacting your locations. 

The above is not an exhaustive list, and it’s always wise to keep your unique circumstances in mind. Early steps and a proactive response can help you minimize damage to people and property and enable you to recover as quickly as possible. They can also help you address operational issues, enabling you to file insurance claims and get your business up and running faster.

Related to:  Property , Flood Services

Duncan Ellis

Duncan is a managing director resident in the New York office and is the leader of Marsh’s US Property Practice.