It’s Been a Challenging Couple of Years
Businesses nationwide face a variety of risks each and every day. While most are financial or operational in nature, the unfortunate reality is that natural disasters and other events are always possible.
From regional storms and earthquakes to wildfires and winter storms, virtually every business is subject to the whims of nature. Harsh and unavoidable storms can roll into a community with little to no warning. A flash flood or earthquake can strike at any time. And extreme seasonal conditions can leave an area ripe for subsequent disasters.
These realities were certainly evident in 2020, to say nothing of the pandemic. Last year shattered the previous records from 2017 and 2011 for billion-dollar storm and climate disasters with 22 events: seven tropical cyclones, 13 severe storms, one drought, and one wildfire. Combined, these events caused the U.S. $95 billion in damages (more than double the 41-year average!). Note that these were just the heavy-hitters: storms with damages in excess of $1 billion. While they accounted for roughly 80% of all damages, that leaves plenty of opportunity for less significant events to wreak havoc across the country.
Natural disasters aren’t the only risks, either. Riots, energy infrastructure issues, and even isolated incidents like store collapses are possible. The past year brought coast-to-coast civil unrest, which led to countless small and large businesses experiencing an estimated $1 to $2 billion in damages. More recently, a number of residential and commercial structure collapses have occurred — leading to a number of deaths and property damage.
Understanding Priorities When Responding to Natural Disasters
Regardless of your industry and facility count, it’s essential to have a disaster response plan in place. It’s likely that you already have such a plan, as they’re a requirement for compliance with local codes and insurance. You may even have a partner contracted for disaster recovery services should such events occur. But what matters most — apart from the safety of your customers and employees — is that disaster recovery services are executed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
While each region you serve is different and is at risk of various types of disasters, there are several key areas of your business where rapid response is critical. This is particularly true for businesses that are considered essential: organizations that the public relies on for their everyday lives. These critical areas include power, signage (especially illuminated), interior spaces, and the structure itself. Let’s explore why each of these elements are so important to protect and maintain before, during, and after an event.
Ultimately, restoring power to one or more of your locations following a natural disaster or other event is the responsibility of the local energy utility. So where does a disaster recovery services partner come in? The right partner will work with you up front to ensure your energy, control, and voice/data systems are as resilient as possible. Your partner will even coordinate the installation or updating of these systems with the local utility — both to help you take advantage of energy rebates and to ensure these systems fail-proof and meet all local codes and requirements.
When the worst happens, your disaster recovery services partner will take action right away — coordinating power restoration efforts, communicating with the local utility, and dispatching repair services to all affected locations. They or their contracted field partners will ensure backup systems like power generators are operational or coordinate their expedient repair, potentially bringing in separate systems if needed.
As a result of this speedy effort, your locations will be able to continue coordinating other disaster recovery services while potentially remaining open (pending the extent of any structural damage) to continue serving customers that will be relying on your brand for goods and services during this challenging time.
Your locations’ signage systems are some of their most important brand assets — for the same reasons during disasters as during normal operations. They serve as a beacon and a promise that each location is in operation and available to support your customers’ needs. That symbol will be a light in the darkness — informing community residents that your brand is there for them. While customers might call or go online to see if you’re open before, during, or after an event, nothing says “we’re here for you” like properly illuminated and functioning signage.
Your disaster recovery partner will prioritize this brand element during restoration efforts for this exact purpose. Whether your locations suffered damage to illuminated monument, pylon, or building signage (or all of them), your partner will coordinate rapid repairs with local experts who can be on-site quickly while keeping you apprised on project status. And thanks to that rapid restoration, your customers will know you were there to support them in their time of need — deepening their trust and connection with your brand for years to come.
Depending on the nature of the disaster, the interior areas of your facilities may experience damage. This could include anything from fire and flooding to damage caused by looters. Examples include damaged entryway doors, shattered windows, broken checkouts, damaged ceiling tiles, broken lighting, water or fire damage, and so on. Regardless of the cause, getting these spaces back up and running is essential to your operations and preserving customer and employee safety.
Your disaster recovery services partner will prioritize this restoration effort as soon as it is safe to do so. In many cases, work can begin as quickly as 24 hours following a disaster or event. Proactive efforts to protect people and assets such as reinforced boarding up of windows and sectioning off of damaged or non-functioning areas will be coordinated. Depending on the scale of the damage, your partner may be able to commence repairs during an open store environment — ensuring that your customers will be able to get what they need while restoration progresses.
If a storm or other event damages the structure of your location(s), a greater repair effort will be needed and may require that the facility shut down. However, again, this depends on the scale and nature of the damage. It may be possible to keep a portion of a store or building open to serve customers while repairs are being made. Examples include damage to the building exterior where customers may not typically walk or park, such as the back or side of a store.
Of course, all such repair efforts are subject to local laws and safety regulations. Your disaster recovery partner will ensure all work performed is done in compliance with these requirements. In the event that a store closure is required, work will proceed expediently. Repair estimates will be gathered and coordinated right away, and your project team will be prioritized on the effort to keep work moving smoothly.
Trust Stratus for Disaster Recovery Services — We’ll See It Through
The Stratus team has been partnering with organizations in multiple industries for decades, providing disaster recovery services and responding to natural disasters with unmatched expediency to ensure they and their customers are covered. Our dedicated disaster recovery team monitors storms and other potentially disastrous events nationwide. Should one or more of your facilities be located in an affected area, we will communicate with you on what to expect and what the next steps will be after.
Teams are assigned to target zones who arrive on site to prioritize restoration efforts by urgency. Once the event has passed, your technician will be on site (if they aren’t already) to conduct a damaged elements survey and gather repair estimates. Thanks to this rapid response, the field partners needed are identified earlier and work can commence sooner. At all times, your project and/or account manager will be in touch with you and your team to keep them apprised on the status of the repair effort.
With vast experience in helping major brands respond to and recover from natural disasters and events, we’ll be able to help you determine — in partnership with local authorities and safety experts — whether you can continue to operate at a reduced capacity during restoration. We do this to protect both your brand and to ensure that your customers will continue to rely on you for the services and products you offer, cementing your position in the communities you serve.
Will Your Disaster Recovery Plan Weather the Storm?
Whether you already have a plan in place and want to validate its effectiveness, or you’re looking for a new partner to provide support at a moment’s notice, our team is ready to work with you. Connect with us today to learn more about our disaster recovery services.