What’s worse, several of them hit land in more than one location — causing additional devastation. There were hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and over 100 deaths attributed to the four main storms alone, making 2017 the costliest hurricane season on record for the United States. Ten of the total 17 named storms for the year reached what is considered hurricane force. When you consider the amount of damage and loss of life, you have to consider: is there any way that businesses and individuals could have been more prepared?
The four major hurricanes of 2017 were named Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate. Starting life as tropical cyclones off the shoreline of the U.S. and the Caribbean, they devastated locations such as Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Louisiana and South Texas. Hurricane Harvey lingered over Texas and Louisiana, making landfall multiples times and causing over $180 billion in damages. More than 30,000 support personnel at the federal level were mobilized to help with cleanup and support efforts. Hurricane Irma came next, with serious storm damage occurring in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean, specifically on the island of Barbuda where more than 90% of buildings were damaged. Irma was “only” a Category 4 storm, but she left behind nearly $200 billion in damages, killed 129 people and caused 40,000 federal personnel to be mobilized.
Hurricane Maria had a catastrophic impact on Puerto Rico, where the Category 4 hurricane stripped the island’s 3.4 million inhabitants of power and basic necessities. While the small country continues to rebuild, it will take years to restore everything that was damaged. Nineteen thousand federal personnel were dispatched to help support the area, where an estimated $95 billion in damages were caused by the storm. Hurricane Nate was the weakest of the four, barely reaching a Category 1 with limited power to cause widespread devastation. Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were hardest hit by the 90 mph winds. Damage was worse in South America where Nate was strongest — causing extensive flooding, landslides and 45 deaths.
Offering support to the families that were impacted by these disastrous storms required extensive coordination — coordination that would be impossible without advanced collaboration and communication tools. People are looking for communication in a variety of different ways when a storm is headed their way, and they trust their local and federal government to keep them safe and informed. Helping citizens understand the true severity of the weather can be challenging, but lives can be saved when you are able to quickly reach out with time-sensitive messages in a variety of different formats.
Creating a disaster communication plan before you need it is critically important. Hurricanes can shift course quickly, surprising your community with the severity of the threat. When you have a communications strategy in place before you need it, you are much more likely to be ready to save lives and protect those you serve. Here are some best practices for disaster communication:
Staying calm and cool in the event of a disaster is particularly important when you are supporting a community that is counting on you. Request a demo of OnSolve’s CodeRED crisis communication tool today to provide an added level of security to your constituents. With CodeRED, information can be cost-effectively pushed to users based on either their geographic location or because they are on a specific list. The experts at OnSolve are on hand to answer your questions at 866-939-0911 about their wide range of services that includes implementation of the cloud-based applications, standalone system hosting or fully managed services.