Business Continuity, Critical Communications, Severe Weather

How to Effectively Communicate Before, During and After a Hurricane

By Shannon Gallo

There’s no way around it: If your organization is based in a hurricane zone, you need an effective emergency communications plan.

Consider the fact that fallout from the 2017 hurricane season, with a staggering $282.16 billion in losses, still affects some communities. The 2018 season is poised to be above average. Before a storm hits, assess your emergency communications plan. Hurricane preparedness is the best way to mitigate any storm-related losses. Create a process that extends timely, efficient communication from before a storm is detected all the way through recovery efforts.

Solidify and activate your plan before a storm

Evaluate your plan before a hurricane strikes; create a plan if you don’t have one. Even an average hurricane season has enormous potential for damage. Your plan should include a mass notification system that lets you quickly send messages via automated phone messages, emails and text messages. Prepare templates that are ready to go for each type of message. Pre-storm activities include training and drills, so employees are familiar with your plan and your notifications. Practice minimizes confusion. Employees will know they can trust your notifications to provide clear, useful information at every phase of a storm.

When a hurricane is detected

When you use a mass notification system for emergency alerts, you’ll have an edge during every phase of a hurricane. You can inform employees and stakeholders from the moment a hurricane is detected and easily keep them apprised of its progress. You can help them prepare, reminding them of your organization’s policies if a hurricane strikes.

When a watch is issued

If the hurricane conditions escalate, your next step is responding to a hurricane watch, which indicates that hurricane conditions are possible. Waste no time activating your plan. Send alerts about the hurricane’s expected impact, including expected flood levels. Prepare your facility and remind employees of evacuation plans and crucial next steps, such as preparing their homes.

When a warning is issued

A hurricane warning means that you can expect hurricane conditions. At this point, share regular alerts about the storm’s progression, including tailored messages about the time your business will close its doors. Clear, reliable communication at this point sets the tone for your entire response and shows that you care about the safety and security of your employees.

Boost business continuity during the storm

Communicating during a hurricane provides invaluable business continuity. A mass notification system permits you to track employees who have evacuated. You can also provide critical information such as power outage updates and shelter information for your employees and their pets. You’ll also want to share updates on your business operations – you might have remote employees who need to know what actions they should take, if any. Continuing business functions, at any level, are key during a storm, but you must also be sensitive to the hurricane’s effects on your workforce. A hurricane can wreak profound devastation on employees’ personal and professional lives. Communication helps you maintain both continuity and compassion.

Maintain communication after the storm

After a hurricane, alert employees and stakeholders about when and to what degree operations will resume. Remain sympathetic to the storm’s effects by providing alternative working arrangements, for instance. You can bolster recovery efforts with alerts about reentry to neighborhoods, debris clean-up efforts, and restoration activities. When your organization is up and running again, evaluate how well your communications plan worked. Because, where hurricanes are concerned, you are very likely to use your communications plan again.

Put best practices into place early

While a hurricane can be considerably challenging, you can help mitigate its effects on your organization by putting effective communications in place before the storm hits. Get prepared... Download our free eBook, “Plan Ahead: Best Communications Practices for the 2018 Hurricane Season.”