Are you storm ready?

On December 1, 2017

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has issues a heavy rainfall warning for Melbourne, stating that the forthcoming rainfall is “unprecedented“. News outlets are suggesting that lives are on the line and sand bags are being distributed to prevent major flooding. Regions across New South Wales and Victoria are bracing for over 250 mm of rain over a 2-day period.

The State of Victoria has already began to communicate to the public and outlined what they can expect, how to prepare and how to be safe.

For many small businesses, flood preparation is underway. Major rain could mean suspension of trading, a sign on the door and/or an online post is needed to alert the public of their closure.

However, large enterprises face a much more challenging task. Workers are likely out in the field and potentially at risk. If a weather event is sever enough, operations and the delivery of customer orders could be halted for a period of time. These are just some of the overarching challenges facing many businesses when preparing for a weather event.

When faced with the possibility of a major storm, organisations must take the warnings seriously. Weather does not discriminate and has crippled major and modern cities such as Houston and Toronto in recent years.

Preparing for a major weather event should be central in business continuity planning. An organisation must be able to understand how long they can operate under trying circumstances such as flooding, heat waves, fires, high winds or earthquakes. Contingency planning is vital and will mitigate potential risks.

Business continuity is part of a larger conversation organisations need to have with their employees, customers, stakeholders and even the wider public. Preemptive communication planning can help to minimise and mitigate irreversible damage to an organisation’s reputation and brand.

Socom regularly works with organisations to prepare for unforeseen situations such as mass weather events. Here are some quick steps to that your organisation can take when planning for a storm:

  • Meet with your communications team and make sure that they have the tools to communicate with employees, customers, stakeholders and the public.
  • Assess who your immediate publics are and that you need to communicate with. For example, could a flood or your business property impact a nearby community?
  • Speak with local officials about your circumstances and coordinate accordingly.
  • Make sure your employees are well informed and updated with current information regarding a possible storm. Ensure communications include health/safety instructions, contact information and what to do in the event of a flood.
  • Monitor the situation and keep your customers updated with the most current information.
  • Make sure you have a communications plan in place for a possible stoppage of operations and how your team will update impacted stakeholders through this period.
  • Remember, communicate what you have done, what your are doing and what you will do throughout the storm.
  • Don’t be a hero. Safety of employees and the public comes first. Shut down operations if anyone is at risk.