Disaster Recovery Plan for Tornado

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Disaster Recovery Plan for Tornado

September 7, 2023 Blog Business Property Management 0
Disaster Recovery Plan for Tornado

It is that time of year again. No, not the holidays. Nope, not summer vacation. But the dreaded, tornado and hurricane season! If you are not prepared, you may suffer more than you need to. As a property owner, it is most desirable to have a disaster recovery plan in place. If you are in the Southern part of the U.S, a hurricane recovery plan is in order. In the Midwest region of the U.S., a tornado recovery plan would be most fitting. 

When a tornado is making its way through Michigan’s neighboring states like Indiana or Illinois, those of us in the southern part of the State need to prepare for a potential disaster. Thankfully, most Michigan homes and businesses have basements (or a “Michigan basement”) to take cover in. But what essential items would one need when hunkering down during a tornado? Let’s take a look at what experts at The National Weather Service suggests:

  • Backpack or storage tub to hold supplies
  • Bottled water (1 gallon per person is recommended)
  • Non-Perishable food
  • If including canned foods, you must include a can opener
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid supplies
  • Bandages
  • Ointment
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper and bags with ties for personal sanitation
  • Paper and pen or pencil (to take notes, play games, etc)
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket (recommend one for each person)
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Personal hygiene items (travel size deodorant, cotton swabs, feminine items, etc.)
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Important documents (identification, insurance information, banking information, wills, etc)
  • Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book
  • Battery powered radio and a NOAA Weather radio
  • Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Cups and utensils
  • A change of clothes for each person (if in a cooler climate make sure the clothes are warm!)
  • Also include a jacket, hat, gloves and closed toe shoes for walking (boots or sturdy sneakers are best)
  • Rain gear
  • Cash
  • Paper towels
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Cards or game (it is important to have something to do to take your mind off the situation for a few moments or alleviate stress if you will be in your shelter for an extended time)

In preparation for tornados, businesses should develop an emergency plan to include the following:

  • Detailed list of suitable shelter spots
  • Strategies to ensure everyone is accounted for
  • Procedures in place to address potentially hazardous materials on-site
  • Mass notification systems, intercoms, and emergency alert radios are must-haves
  • Shelter locations: Identify the safest areas for people to gather, like interior hallways, stairwells, basements or rooms away from exterior walls and windows

Ok, the storm has passed, and you go to the upper level only to find that your property has been trashed by the tornado. Your employees are safe but now what? How do we go about disaster restoration and reopening our doors? And furthermore, who will help with the complicated insurance claim, so we do not go bankrupt over storm damage?

Business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) states the essential functions of the business, identifies which systems and processes must be sustained, and details how to maintain them. It should consider any possible business disruption. A BCP covers risks including cyber-attacks, pandemics, natural disasters and human error.

A disaster recovery (DR) plan is a formal document created by an organization that contains detailed instructions on how to respond to unplanned incidents such as natural disasters, power outages, cyber-attacks and any other disruptive events.

Business continuity and disaster recovery have different goals. Effective business continuity plans limit operational downtime, whereas effective disaster recovery plans limit abnormal or inefficient system functions. Only by combining the two plans can businesses comprehensively prepare for disastrous events, like a tornado.

Here are the five components of a BCP:

  1. Risks and potential business impact
  2. Planning an effective response
  3. Roles and responsibilities
  4. Communication
  5. Testing and training

Disaster recovery plan example

Should the unfortunate incident, such as a tornado cause significant damage to your commercial property, a reputable, private adjuster will suggest that you carefully consider the following actions:

Take Photographs of Property Before a Disaster Occurs

Photographs will be important to prove the extent of your damages later. Take new photos every year, or after any alterations to the property.

Back Up Business-Critical Information

Make sure your rental and maintenance records and communications systems are backed up off site so you can immediately retrieve key client information, financial documents, and sales histories. Having this information immediately available can make or break your public relations and disaster recovery efforts.

Have a Response Team in Place

Put a claim management team together before a disaster strikes and assign a lead spokesperson. Only an individual who is knowledgeable in the area of insurance should handle interactions with your carrier. This is essential, since the smallest comment can make a big difference in how much money you recover.

Plan Now for Small Actions That Make a Big Difference

Cut master keys to all units on your property. Make sure your team knows to have someone bring in all patio furniture (pool furniture can go inside or into the pool itself) and to put elevators up to the highest floor possible.

Establish Contacts with Reputable Contractors

Ideally, you should know who you’ll call to help in your physical and financial recovery efforts. This saves you valuable time and gives you priority over others shopping for contractors after a disaster.

Protect your property from further damage

It’s your responsibility to perform emergency work such as putting up tarps, removing wet drywall and carpeting to prevent mold, as well as boarding up openings and installing fencing, where necessary, to protect your belongings and keep others from getting hurt.

Document the damage

Photograph or videotape the scene, including the “debris pile,” before you begin any cleanup efforts. When estimating damages, do not rely solely on your historical records. Instead, secure replacement cost estimates.

Request a complete copy of your insurance policy

Read and make sure you understand your rights and obligations under your insurance policy before entering into any serious discussions or negotiations with your carrier. Seek out a professional to help you understand what your policy actually covers and, just as important, what it doesn’t.

Document all of your activities and expenses

Keep a log of all activities and save all receipts, including those for property replacement and extra expenses. This will provide the documentation a disaster recovery professional requires to present expenses to your carrier, and you will know which expenses will be reimbursed as you rebuild.

Make decisions that are best for the survival of your business

Policyholders often expect the insurance company to tell them what to do to save their business. Insurance company adjusters are simply auditors of your property insurance claim.

Hire your own experts

The insurance adjuster sent by your carrier to evaluate the damages is working exclusively for the insurance company, not for you. It’s your responsibility to document and submit your claim. Make sure you have someone on your side who knows insurance inside and out to ensure that you get a full, fair and expedited settlement — while you concentrate on maintaining your operations, not on claim details.

Disaster recovery plan for tornado

In conclusion, having a well-prepared disaster recovery plan is crucial for businesses in tornado-prone areas. By taking necessary precautions, gathering essential supplies, and developing a comprehensive business continuity plan, organizations can effectively navigate the aftermath of a tornado and minimize the impact on their lives and operations.

Note information within this article is meant for educational purposes only and is in no way a replacement for professional contractor advice or medical support.