In the wake of the disaster that Hurricane Harvey left behind, experts estimate up to $23 billion dollars in damage occurred in just two southeast Texas counties.
That number reflects market value, rather than total storm damage, and it doesn’t include the storm’s total reach. Experts are still calculating the total cost of damage across the rest of Texas and Louisiana.
It’ll take many business owners – especially those of small businesses – years to rebuild, if they do at all. Over 40% of small businesses don’t reopen after a disaster because they simply don’t have the resources.
Here are some serious issues to consider before the next hurricane hits:
Develop a business continuity plan.
Get the right types of insurance – and review coverage periodically.
Many businesses in the storm’s path did not have flood insurance, which means there may be few options for filing flood-related claims. Business owners should look to the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, which can issue policies that cover businesses in the event of a flood.
Consider the emotional toll on employees.
Your business was hit by a hurricane; that means your employees’ homes were likely affected, too. Hurricane Harvey displaced an estimated one million people. While getting your business back up and running is a priority for you, consider the impact of the storm on your colleagues. Following a natural disaster, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open and be flexible with employees as they deal with damage to their homes. Put policies in place before a storm hits that outline how you’ll handle working after the storm. Your employees may need to work flexible hours while they care for kids who aren’t able to go to school or elderly relatives who typically live on their own or at a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Organize and protect your records.
In the days leading up to a forecasted hurricane or other severe weather, you’ll likely want to spend it preparing for physical damage, preparing to evacuate and making sure that your family and your employees’ families are safe. You don’t want to spend it scrambling to organize your policy files. While most of the information you need is on the web, make sure you can easily access it from your phone. You might also want to print out backup copies of policies and carry them with you so you can reach out to insurers after the event.
Put your smartphone to use.
When it’s time to assess the damage and begin rebuilding, put your smartphone to use. Take pictures and video to capture the damage to your business. As an added measure, take pictures of paper receipts during your rebuilding efforts as a backup. It’s an easy way to help you document your expenses that can contribute to your deductible.
These recent powerful storms are a reminder to prepare ahead of time for these types of natural disasters – even if you don’t think it can happen to you.