While Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to impact small businesses across the country, it’s important for business owners in certain regions to start thinking about and preparing for the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1.
In addition to offering programs to help businesses recover from natural disasters such as hurricanes, the SBA also provides guidance to help you protect your business before the storm hits. If you live in hurricane-prone areas like coastal communities, here are a few things to consider to reduce risks to your business during Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 3-9) and in the months ahead:
Before Hurricane Season
Ahead of hurricane season, these precautions can help prepare your small business:
- Back up data and make sure you can access important files remotely. Put these systems into place now in case your on-site computers or paper files are damaged or otherwise inaccessible during a storm.
- Implement a back-up power supply system. A back-up generator will enable you to keep essential systems online during a storm. It will also help you get your business up and running sooner after the storm passes.
- Establish an emergency communications plan. Make sure you have up-to-date contact information for all relevant stakeholders, including customers, employees, and suppliers.
When a Storm is Approaching
When a hurricane is approaching, follow these steps to protect your property:
- Install windstorm shutters or plywood over windows and doors. Doing so will help prevent interior damage to your building.
- Take precautions so that items outdoors will not blow away or cause physical damage. For example, remove all loose debris, anchor or relocate all nonessential equipment, and secure large cranes and other heavy equipment.
- Have cash on hand for post-hurricane needs. Cash may be useful for buying food and supplies or paying employees and contractors in case electronic payment systems are down.
As the storm strikes, your safety and your employees’ safety are what matters most. Follow any guidelines issued by state and local officials. If you are at your business during the storm, stay in an interior room on the lowest level of the building.
After the Storm
After the hurricane passes, the following tips can help you quickly start the recovery process
- Carefully survey your business property for safety hazards. This could include live wires, leaking gas or flammable liquids, and poisonous gases. Inspect for damage to foundations or underground piping. If you are uncertain where to begin in this process, consult with an expert first to ensure your own safety.
- Begin debris removal as soon as possible to prevent further damage. For example, cover broken windows and torn roof coverings immediately. You should also clean roof drains and discard to prevent drainage problems.
- Apply for disaster assistance if needed. Check disasterloan.sba.gov to see if a disaster has been declared in your area. Then, create an account and apply for a loan on SBA’s disaster assistance website.
For help preparing your business for hurricane season, consult with local SBA resource partners, including Small Business Development Centers and SCORE. Resource partners can also help businesses apply for disaster loans and provide guidance on how to get up and running after a hurricane strikes. Free and low-cost business assistance is now available remotely via phone, video chat, and email.
Additional Disaster Preparedness Resources
Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety—Tips on how to create your own business continuity plan, how to rebuild stronger, and an interactive disaster hazard map.
Ready.Gov—Preparedness tips for risks including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes cyber-attacks and active shooters.