Does your business have a disaster recovery plan yet?
By Ryan Pierce and J.D. Moore
June 24, 2019
There’s no avoiding natural disasters, but there’s no reason to not be fully prepared for one. Hurricane season began June 1 and will run through November 30, and, unfortunately, it’s more likely than not we’ll see a hurricane or two make landfall in America during that time.
With that in mind, right now is the best time to make sure you have an actionable recovery plan in place to help rebuild your community or business as quickly as possible. Based on the decades-worth of experience our company (TDS) has had in natural disaster recovery, we’ve laid out the following guide for creating a recovery and restoration plan.
Our guide covers first steps you should take after a disaster hits to follow protocol with disposal once clean-up begins. While this guide is especially relevant to the start of hurricane season, the following tips can be applied to any type of situation.
Prepare Your Food Supply and Store It Right
It may be a tried-and-true preparation tip, but it’s tried and true for a reason. It’s essential to stock up on about a week or two’s worth of canned and non-perishable food items, especially before you get into a situation where fresh supplies can’t get into your community.
It’s just as equally important in knowing where to store your items in case of emergency. Items should be stored in a high, dry area away from possible floodwaters or ground-level damage. Ideally, these items are kept in a pantry or closet away from windows, exterior doors, sky lights or other points of entry that can let storm damage get to your food supply. Keeping your items in a durable container, such as a sealable cooler or a storage bin, will also give an added layer of security around your items.
Food utensils and cooking wares should also not be forgotten. Reusable plates, silverware, cups, skillets and other food prep materials should be stored near your supply, and similarly sealed in durable containers.
In general, it’s best to re-evaluate and refresh your non-perishable food supply at the start of every summer, disposing of any expired or unusable items you may have on hand. These expired materials might be compostable or their containers recyclable—be sure to check before throwing them entirely in the trash.
Arrange Means for Water and Fuel
Water and fuel are always the first items to run short when a storm comes, which makes sense, as they’re two of the most important resources to have during recovery. Clean water is critical in helping people meet their basic nourishment and hygiene needs, while fuel is a requirement for transportation and powering equipment like generators and heavy machinery.
To make sure you have enough water and fuel available for recovery efforts, it’s a great idea as a business or community to have a “first right of refusal” contract in place with key partners, such as gas and diesel providers, utility firms, waste disposal companies and construction crews. These contracts, designed to protect rights for the consumer, ensure that partners give you the first rights to acquiring goods and services during the recovery period. This legal measure can prevent price gouging or other unfair business practices that may occur when demand is high.
Most first-right-of-refusal contracts can be drafted up by an attorney or business executive well in advance. After agreeing to future options, such as service terms, pricing and coverage areas, this contract can be signed and notarized. More information about this type of contract can be found within the legal community and by experts in the contracts field.
Stay Connected with WIFI Hotspots
Having a WIFI hotspot and internet access is a game changer in getting recovery efforts off the ground quickly and efficiently. It’s also quintessential in communicating with the outside world.
Internet providers have taken note of this and utilized different services ahead of previous hurricanes, most notably Hurricane Florence. Before the storm made landfall, ISP providers Comcast and Charter teamed up to provide 12,000 hot spots to the Carolinas. Satellite internet and P2P antennae networks are among other Internet options that can be used when cell phone towers are down. While limited on broadband speed, these hotspots can be shared across teams to communicate effectively and order needed services to the region.
In addition to the communication benefits of a WIFI hotspot, that internet connection also provides recovery crews with access to important, real-time news updates that typically follow a natural disaster. Access to information on which roads are open, what stores have supplies and who can be contacted in an instant is a vital tool that cannot be taken for granted as a community rebuilds.
Be Ready with Power and Light
Power outages are one of the most common results of a natural disaster and one of the most important problems to solve quickly.
The best solution to restoring power quickly is to bring in portable generators while utility crews work on permanent solutions. The best generator to have lined up is one that is both fuel-efficient and connected to a built-in light tower, which minimizes fuel usage while maximizing production and use. With a generator, power tools can be run, phones can be charged, and water heaters can warm water for showers, amongst several other uses.
Once generators are running and power is restored, the focus should shift immediately from power to lighting. Having temporary light towers in place can help crews get other stabilizing efforts off the ground, like temporary medical facilities and around-the-clock clean-up efforts. When light towers are running, teams can safely operate through the night, which brings a community back to full strength faster.
Know Local Ordinances on Clean-up Disposal Protocol
After the basic needs of a business or community are met, and the city’s core infrastructure is stabilized, long-term clean-up and rebuilding efforts can begin. With the amount of waste that needs to be processed, several local governments and waste companies create protocols to organize waste streams.
Following the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, Houston officials required that waste be designated into five separate categories: woody debris, construction and demolition (C&D) debris, white goods (refrigerators, air conditioners and water heaters, for example), household hazardous waste and electronic waste. This streamlined the waste process, and more importantly, minimized the amount of overflow material that would be sent to the landfill.
By sending wood and spoiled food to composting fields, and ruined appliances and flooded cars to scrap metal yards, landfills were able to handle more bulk waste and increased trash loads. Additionally, the landfill diversion created new usable materials, such as soils, compost blends, mulch, metal ores and raw manufacturing products.
Before clean-up begins, knowing what ways your local authority will process waste will make it significantly easier for your business or community to work on the rebuild.
While rebuilds and the aftermath of a disaster may be a daunting task, there is no reason to not be prepared. By putting a plan in place and finding trusted partners to help during a disaster, communities and businesses can get “back to normal” faster.
And at TDS, we would love to be that trusted partner. With a wide network of resources, expertise in cleanup processes, and a proven history in aiding communities across the U.S., our emergency response team is uniquely qualified to assist with disaster relief efforts. Our team has been on the frontline of clean-ups for more than 20 years, including hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other destructive acts of nature from all around the United States.
Give us a call at 512-550-7519 and learn how we do work in a noticeably different, noticeably better way.
J.D. Moore is a multimedia specialist for Texas Disposal Systems (TDS) . Ryan Pierce is a site services sales manager for TDS, with emphasized focus in disaster relief and emergency response management. He can be contacted at email@example.com.