When flash floods and high winds ripped through the Pacific Northwest in November, the raging storm shuttered businesses, inundated homes and downed electrical lines. Massive mudslides blocked highways, launched emergency airlifts for stranded residents and chased people from devastated homes.
Some commercial properties, though, weathered the violence more smoothly than others. “Customers who planned properly did much better than those who did not,” says Justin Graham, owner of Paul Davis of Portland/Vancouver Washington. “These forward-thinking companies anticipated the events better, kept employees safer, got help sooner, opened their doors faster and suffered less damage in the first place. Planning in advance of disasters works. It’s not a difficult process to complete. And we will help you free of charge.”
Paul Davis recommends a five-step planning process that commercial entities of any size can undertake successfully.
Form a Steering Committee: Designate a team to lead the disaster planning. The team should feature property professionals – building managers, maintenance supervisors, owners – as well as those following the plan such as residents or workers.
Assess Risk: As a committee, carefully consider what types of threats your business may suffer. Is your property located near a coast that experiences seasonal storms? Is it adjacent to a waterway that may flood when extreme weather strikes? Perhaps your property is located in a dangerous area or next to a company that conducts hazardous activities. Insurance carriers, fire marshals, local officials and emergency responders are helpful resources during this step.
Develop an Emergency Plan: As Graham mentioned, Paul Davis will create a custom Emergency Preparedness Plan, or EPP, free of charge. Plans comprise information specific to your property and operations, such as emergency contacts, preferred trade and supplier partners, mechanical room information, locations of crucial infrastructure controls and a variety of additional details needed during an emergency. Plans also include special instructions pre-loss, such as areas of your property that should be prioritized, preferred response parking areas and preferred access to the property and its structures. Paul Davis provides participating companies with completed plans by link or as printed copies and communicates your plan to main points of contact if an emergency occurs.
Create a Communications Plan: Effective and efficient disaster responses rely on good communication among emergency responders, company leaders, building management and occupants. For your plan, record contact details for management and key personnel who will deploy the emergency plan if disaster strikes. Equip this core group with secure and reliable communications networks and devices. Test the comms plan and equipment regularly.
Build Partnerships: Talk with neighbouring businesses, stakeholders, local law enforcement, local emergency responders, insurance carriers and business partners like suppliers or tenants. Let them know your plans and provide them with contact information they can use to reach your business if disaster strikes.
“Finally, revisit these five steps often because situations change, businesses grow, personnel turn over and the plan needs to keep up,” Graham concludes. “We are here to help, too, whether it’s with planning or handling damage if the worst occurs despite thorough preparation. We promise to be onsite within a few hours of a call for help.”
Need help protecting your commercial property against risks? A trained Paul Davis professional answers our phone 24/7/365.