5 things a facility manager should consider when preparing, responding, and recovering from a major hurricane

Blog Post created by jmontes Employee on Sep 11, 2017
5 things a facility manager should consider when preparing, responding, and recovering from a major hurricane
We have just experienced two major hurricanes here in the United States over the last several weeks, and are sure that there will be more natural disasters in our future. The responsibility for preparedness is a whole-community approach that rests on the shoulders of many stakeholders.  Each segment of the community has a role in prevention, mitigation, response, continuity and recovery that can be addressed in a holistic manner.  Facility managers are a vital cog in this chain. NFPA 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs, one of NFPA’s most widely implemented standards, establishes a common set of criteria that sets a foundation for disaster management, emergency management, and business continuity programs using a total program approach (plus the PDF version of this standard is free to download!). 
Here are five things to consider as you prepare, respond, and recover from a major hurricane:   
1) The most important thing to do is prepare and know you are part of a larger community and you need to help each other.  As outlined in chapter 5 of NFPA 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity/Continuity of Operations Programs conduct a risk assessment, business impact analysis, and resource needs assessment before the event occurs. This will give you an idea of what you are facing and what you will need prior to the event.  
2) Know your stakeholders; These are the people that utilize your facility every day. Poll them to know what their plans are and let them know what yours are. Keep track of those that are staying and make sure to account for anyone with access and functional needs. 
3) Talk to your neighbors; keep track of local emergency management’s instructions and follow them. If you have capabilities and services to offer, let them know. Also, if you have resource needs, let them know. Being a good neighbor for others may save the life of one of your stakeholders or that of one of your neighbors in the event of a disaster. 
4) Communicate;  As early as possible, activate your plan and make sure that your stakeholders are aware of it.  Assure that they know their roles and expectations if any.  If you are operating a facility that is a critical infrastructure location, make sure that your on-duty staff have (to the best of their ability) secured the safety of their family and pets so that they can focus on the tasks at hand. Be sure that your support of this effort is communicated to them.  For more see NFPA 1600 Annex K.
5.) Trust the plan, but don’t let it hold you back; Even the best and smartest emergency preparedness planner can’t think of everything, and we know that mother nature isn’t interested in their best intentions.  Your plan may be a script, but you will need to be flexible and make decisions and improvisations based on the need of the event.   
At the end of the day remember:   
  • The time of the emergency is not when you should be exchanging business cards for the first time with your local partners. 
  • Take care of you and your own first, so you can focus on the rest. 
  • All plans and activities are fluid and dynamic based on the needs of the event.    


Photo courtesy of the United States Navy.