How Businesses Can Prepare for a Hurricane

September 7, 2017

The Nassau County Economic Development Board serves as a vital resource

It’s that time of year again here in Florida where residents and business owners are glued to their television or their phone watching updates and hitting refresh as they wait in anticipation of what yet another storm could do to their home and/or business.

The Nassau County Economic Development Board (NCEDB) serves as a valuable resource before, during and after a storm.   The NCEDB’s function in emergency situations is to address business continuity, defined as the capability of an organization to continue delivery of products or services at acceptable predefined levels following a disruptive incident, ensuring the needs of our smallest to largest employers are addressed in short order, should they be disabled for a period of time due to the event. We recommend business owners and residents Sign up for Nassau County, Florida Emergency Alerts.

Before the Storm – Have a Plan

Statistically, 40-60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a weather catastrophe.  The better prepared you are ahead of an event, the more likely your business will be to recover.

Here are a few tips to implement prior to a storm:

  • Stay up-to-date on the storm’s progress. We suggest having a battery-operated radio on hand before, during and after the storm.  NOAA is a great and reliable resource
  • Determine safe evacuation routes, as well as, alternate routes. A storm or hurricane can change course without much warning.  It’s always safe to have at least two options in place
  • Know your evacuation zone. You can find a map here
  • Review your shelter-in-place plan
  • Have a fully stocked Disaster Kit (fresh batteries, supplies, First Aid kit, water, etc.)
  • Have an emergency communication plan prior to the storm or evacuation
  • Back-up all data on servers and personal computers. Take back-up drives with you if you feel those could be comprised if left behind.
  • Turn off all non-critical devises.
  • Inspect and make emergency repairs to drains, gutters or flashing
  • Notify a third party about your company’s evacuation plan.  You can contact the NCEDB at 904-225-8878 or email
  • Protect vital records, especially your insurance documents
  • Install windstorm shutters or plywood over windows and doors
  • Insure all outdoor items are stored inside or are tied down so as to not blow away or cause damage
  • Securely store all flammable liquids
  • Anchor all portable buildings and outdoor signs
  • Most importantly, please make sure all employers who volunteer to stay onsite have proper supplies and equipment (drinkable water, nonperishable food, medical supplies, flashlights and batteries)
  • Have cash on hand for post-storm needs such as food and supplies or paying employees or contractors
  • Know which employees are certified in CPR, EMT, etc.
  • Fill fuel tanks of generators, fire pumps and all company owned vehicles
  • Remove as many goods from the floor as possible in order to protect them from a flood
  • Shut off natural gas supply to minimize fire loss
  • Disconnect the main electrical feeds to the building to prevent a potential fire
  • Set up remove access to your company’s website so updates about your availability may be made

Please note, if an official evacuation order is in place for any part of Nassau County, it is advisable that no employees should remain behind.

During the Storm

If weather conditions permit, there is no mandatory evacuation in process, and you have decided to remain in place, you should consider:

  • Patrol your property and watching for roof leaks, pipe breakage, fire or structural damage
  • Remain in a secure place that has been determined safe and away from flood potential, especially during the height of a windstorm
  • Monitor equipment that must remain online. During a power failure, turn off electrical switches to prevent reactivation before necessary inspections are complete
  • Remain apprised of current weather situations. Have a battery-operated radio available

After the Storm

According to the Small Business Administration, statistics show after a disaster 90 percent of companies fail within a year unless they can resume operations within five days. Having a plan can ensure that you’re back in business quickly and able to provide products and services to your community.

  • Keep listening to weather updates. NOAA will typically have most up-to-date information
  • Wait until your area has been declared safe prior to entering
  • Once you are safe to enter, secure the site and survey for any damage
  • Enlist 24-hour security, if needed
  • Watch for closed or potentially flooded roads. If a road appears to be flooded, turn around and don’t risk getting stuck or drowning
  • Survey your property for safety hazards such as live wires, leaking gas or flammable liquids. You will also want to check for foundation or other structural damage
  • Contact your insurance provider immediately if any damage was sustained
  • Call in vital personnel
  • Require contractors to share responsibility for establishing fire safe conditions before and during the job
  • Begin salvage as soon as possible to prevent further damage
  • Cover torn roofs and broken windows immediately
  • Separate damaged goods
  • Clean drains and remove debris from roof to prevent further damage and draining problems

In addition to the above checklist, you can find resources for recovery and contact FEMA.

To ensure business continuity throughout Nassau County, the NCEDB will be in communication with local business to assess recovery needs and be a conduit to utilities such as JEA, FPL and FPU.

We advise local businesses and residents to sign-up for alerts via the county’s emergency management system – Click here to register.

To make sure we have your current information, please contact us at


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