Posts Tagged ‘Evacuation’

Pop-Up Storms Change Our Timeframe

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

So-called “pop-up storms” are a new phenomenon confounding hurricane forecasting. Typically during the Atlantic storm season, hurricanes would form off of the coast of Africa and travel westward towards the United States, providing ample notice of impending landfall. But meteorologists are noting a new trend, possibly beginning with Hurricane Umberto in 2007, in which storms “pop up” off the coast of the United States and make landfall very rapidly. This means that residents of affected areas have less notice to prepare evacuations. Of course, you should have your small business prepared to evacuate on short notice, as the more statistically significant risks, such as fires, do not come with early warnings as do hurricanes. Unfortunately, however, residents of hurricane-affected areas tend to distort their risk assessment based on this unique exposure. So how should the new trend of pop-up storms motivate small business preparedness? You should tighten your time frames for response to such threats. Begin with your home and office telecommunications strategy.

Here is a tip verbatim from the Prepare for the Worst, Plan for the Best: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery for Small Businesses (Wiley, second edition, 2008). Think in reverse for forwarding critical business calls. The cell phone is the natural backup solution for landlines. The question is how to automatically connect land- and cell-phone based service so that the cell phone service would take over once the landlines have failed. The problem is two-fold: once the landlines have failed, it is not possible for you to forward them to the cell phones. Moreover, in an emergency, such as an earthquake, you want to evacuate quickly and should not put yourself in harm’s way by returning to your office to deal with the phones. The solution is developed by thinking in reverse. Use the cell phone as your general business contact number. Program the phone in such a way that any incoming call is forwarded to your land-based business phone number when the cellular phone is switched off. If your land-based line fails (or you are unable to return to your office to access it), you simply switch on your cellular phone, and voilà. This is what I did on the morning of 9-11, when I evacuated the World Trade Center, but it was not safe to return to my office. I went home to shelter in place and turned on my cell phone to receive all incoming office calls. If you implement this strategy right away, you have a plan for continuous telecommunications and it is one less thing for you to worry about if you have to evacuate on short notice.

Tough Economy Means Tough Choices This Hurricane Season

Monday, June 1st, 2009
Can We Afford It?

Can We Afford It?

Today marks the beginning of the 2009 hurricane season and with it, heightened anxiety among Gulf Coast residents.  We are particularly vulnerable as the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 12% of the population, close to 36 million Americans, live in areas at risks to Atlantic storms. Last year, in response to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, Louisiana evacuated two million of its residents from the coastal areas, the largest mobilization in its history. They are preparing to do so again this year and increase the number of residents who may be sheltered within the state. In an earlier blog posting, I wrote about how the team at the New Orleans Small Business Development Center told me of their clients who did not have the funds to pay for a fourth evacuation in the 2008 hurricane season should one be called. State officials realize that the 2009 season may be worse, as with the weak economy, many people won’t be able to afford the cost of the evacuation and may choose instead to shelter in place which, as the events of Hurricane Katrina showed, could be a fatal option.