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Preparing for Natural Disasters Amid Covid-19

Unpredictable summer weather can stir up additional concerns amid already challenging times. The warmer weather may bring devastating hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The 2020 hurricane season was very active. By the time all was said and done, the Atlantic Basin experienced 30 named storms. The National Hurricane Center actually exhausted the standard alphabetical list and moved onto the greek alphabet for naming conventions. We can only hope that 2021 does not follow that trend.

Nasty weather causes ripples in many ways of life, including the building industry. Resources are already stretched thin due to supply chain issues and material shortages. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to start preparing for upcoming potential threats.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recommends businesses have a solid plan in place that covers everything from suppliers to staffing and even bracing for worsening economic impact.

The NAHB sheds light on several things to consider when planning your operations during natural disaster season.

For the housing industry, some examples of COVID-19-related impacts that should be taken into consideration during business continuity and preparedness planning this hurricane season include:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supply chains: Plan to communicate frequently with any current PPE suppliers to gauge the availability of masks or anything else imperative to your business.
Workforce disruptions: A major storm or natural disaster could have a major impact on local labor at a time when COVID-19 has already heavily influenced many companies staffing levels

Supply chain and material availability and scheduling: Many suppliers have seen extended backorders for certain building materials and adjusted delivery procedures according to social distancing measure and this may be further affected by a severe weather event.

Non-congregate sheltering options for employees and their families: Should an evacuation be ordered, or external sheltering be needed for a hurricane or tornado, plan for contingencies that allow for adherence to local social distancing requirements.

Communication and virtual infrastructure: As with any major weather event, local electric and telecommunications infrastructure can sustain damage resulting in outages. These outages could be extremely detrimental to operations during the pandemic as many companies are already conducting most business virtually or over the phone. Be sure to have robust communication plans that include multiple pre-established contact channels for employees and virtual infrastructure backups to support any virtual construction-related technologies that were adopted as a result of the pandemic.

Economic impacts: The effects of the global pandemic have heavily impacted many companies’ financials. During business continuity and preparedness planning, account for how a major business disruption caused by a natural disaster could impact any COVID-19-related loans or federal aid.

Limiting personal exposure when evacuating and restarting operations: From securing the worksite or office, to evacuations, and eventual return to normal operations, planning for appropriate social distancing and safety measures will be important to plan for this upcoming season.

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