Retailers get ready for a more than normal hurricane season.

Written by the weather storm team at FacilitySource

Facility managers wear more hats than normal during storms, tornados, natural disasters and hurricane seasons. This article will cover geographic areas hardest hit by heavy storms and natural disasters, how to estimate facility damage costs and options to get operations up and running immediately following a storm, tornado, natural disaster or hurricane.

Facilities managers support their companies in many ways when adverse weather kicks into high gear. They have to anticipate, avoid or accommodate damage done by severe weather. The successful facility managers have thought through the eventualities and have a preparedness plan or a decisive course of action. Others just pray nothing tragic happens to their locations.

In any case, facility managers are responsible for keeping customers and employees safe by protecting assets like glass windows, roofs, HVAC, electrical boxes, refrigeration, flooring and much more in hundreds or thousands of locations. Most facility managers can’t be on site to physically meet or manage every roofing expert, glass replacement company, flood abatement, electrical or plumbing vendor or even walk every property to inspect damage. This is the time when you want to work with trusted providers with reputations for delivering service at a fair price during the time of need.

Brands with wide geographic footprints can find themselves at a distinct disadvantage during storm season because the coordination of contractors and repairs in the wake of a storm or weather related disaster can be a logistical nightmare. Sound daunting? It’s not.  A facilities management service team with a large provider network can monitor and manage speed to resolution, report on ETAs, and work order turnaround times effectively and efficiently if they have the right experience.

Make sure you don’t over-pay during a time of need.

It’s tough to anticipate damage and create the right preparedness plan to ensure locations are safe and service providers are standing by ready to make repairs at reasonable rates.

Facility management companies with leveraged network pricing and DNE guarantees can fully manage thousands of sites at a time and ensure you’re not paying artificially inflated rates during these emergency times. Expert facility management companies also track cost and service history down to the equipment level and benchmark data to other locations with the same post storm or hurricane repair needs.

Make sure weather alerts are sent to locations during a damaging weather related event.

Facility management companies with proven disaster recovery and preparedness services also report on and alert locations with hurricane, tornado and storm updates. It’s true. Facilities management companies really have their own in-house trained meteorologists to predict the path of storms or hurricanes, so you can plan for the circumstances. Make sure your facility is receiving path of storm updates, tracking, and continual forecasts from your facility management company.

Additionally, single-source management companies can ensure vendor availability, compliance, work order management, invoice accuracy, materials availability, regional or national benchmarked pricing comparisons, as well as quality of work during a time when work quality can be suspect.

Proactive, advanced planning saves you time and money and allows you to stay focused on customer and employee safety and getting back in business.

Rules of thumb prep tips.

Here are a few rules of thumb when thinking through preparedness efforts:

  1. Consider consequences of wind damage to windows, roofing, communications and infrastructure.
  2. Perform needed maintenance now
  3. Document the electrical system and ensure that information is current and accurate at all times.
  4. Eliminate single points of failure.
  5. Ensure redundancies independent of cell or terrestrial networks as much as possible
  6. Ensure your crisis scenario doesn’t have supply chain holes.
  7. Make sure your facility is receiving path of storm updates, tracking, and continual forecasts.
  8. Move critical equipment or take measures to prevent flooding of this equipment.
  9. Prepare for and practice an orderly shutdown of the electrical system as much as possible.
  10. Test generators
  11. Understand which equipment will likely be impacted and how fast this major equipment can be replaced during an emergency, if age trumps repair cost value.
  12. Develop a process to make sure all stakeholders (internal and external) are aware of decisions and expectations.

Here are a few more tips for managing weather related damage control circumstances:

  1. Develop, practice and share a well thought through, decisive crisis preparedness plan with experts.
  2. Check out trusted, experienced facilities management companies and compare reputations, costs, response and resolution times, ETAs, 1st responder guarantees, vetting processes, work order turnaround, on- demand and emergency call practices and vendor depth.
  3. Look at geographic footprint of the facility management company’s vendor network.
  4. Get insight on rate increases from those experts who maintain at least 10 years of comparable reporting and analytics.
  5. Look for a FMP with meteorologists on staff that can and will communicate directly to your store managers.
  6. Compare emergency and on-demand processes, compliance procedures and added value of a dedicated teams.

Take the hassle out of trade sourcing, managing, reporting, negotiating pricing and paying multiple vendors during a time of crisis.

States where most damage occurs.

Insurance giant State Farm has named the 10 states where they typically receive the most tornado, hurricane, natural disaster and storm related wind damage claims.

State Farm’s top states for tornado and wind claims in 2014, were as follows:

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Georgia$10,148
Texas$7,999
Ohio$6,849
Tennessee$6,395
Indiana$5,945
Michigan$4,762
Alabama$4,612
Missouri$3,914
Kentucky$3,583

The U.S. has seen an average of 909 tornadoes per year between over the past five years, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The National Hurricane Center categorizes hurricanes as follows:

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Category 1:winds 75 to 95 mph
Category 2:winds 96 to 110 mph
Category 3:
winds 111 to 130 mph
Category 4:winds 131 to 155 mph
Category 5: winds 156 mph or higher

A category 1 hurricane may only bring damage to a roof or power lines and take down some trees. In contrast, a category 5 hurricane can cause complete collapse to structures and are more devastating.

Damage cost tool

The cost of wind damage repair generally ranges from about $880 almost $11,000, according to a report from The Weather Channel.

There is a simple tool at FloodSmart.gov that lets you enter in the height of the storm water in at your facility and it provides a ballpark cost for complete flood damage restoration services and breaks down the cost based upon the items damaged. The tool isn’t perfect, but it’s a start to calculating damage.

Many retailers implement plans and reopen temporary locations in the form tents pitched in front of stores during these times. Yep, that’s right many retailers pitch tents, pop-ups and set-up temporary trailers to operate out of as full-fledged retail establishments.

There is no doubt every brand will be faced with threatening weather at some point. Too many retailers fail to craft a plan, or they design a plan nobody has rehearsed. A crisis plan does little good if only the facility manager knows it exists. There is no substitute for good training and consistent practice.

When you are out looking for a single-source facility management company with established repair quality standards and guaranteed response times, consider one with a lot of bad weather related maintenance experience—because some day you’ll need it.

If you want to talk about a natural disaster preparedness plan for your locations, give us a call at 1-800-896.9000, dial “0” and ask for marketing. Also, we would love to hear about We would love to hear how you manage or plan for weather related disasters.

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