Employer Hurricane Preparedness and Business Continuity Plan

Employer Hurricane Preparedness and Business Continuity Plan

Did you know that over 40% of small businesses that close due to hurricane damage never reopen? It is essential for business owners to be proactive in preparing for hurricanes and other unpredictable disasters.  Busy hurricane seasons—such as that of 2017, which left Florida battered—are the “new normal,” according the Director of FEMA.

After planning for your home and providing for the safety of your family, you need to create a survival plan for your business. Not sure how? Here are the steps we recommend to take to keep employees safe, protect not just your property but also important data and information, as well as resume running  the business or continue operating for your customers.

Step One:
  • Protect important documents and information. Digitally store and/or secure documents in an alternate, accessible off-site location.
  • Make a handy hard copy list of contacts numbers and emails crucial to business operations, such as employees, banks, lawyers, accountants, insurance agents, etc. Include the FEMA Tele-Registration Hot-line: 1-800-462-9029. Or download the FEMA app: https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app. You may need help from the Small Business Administration (SBA): 1-800-359-2227. The SBA provides Physical Disaster Business Loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans for Small Businesses.
  • Set up a crisis communications plan and alternate way of staying in touch with key employees and partners. Remember texts often work when a phone doesn’t in weather related disasters.
  • Be sure to discuss disaster planning with your employees – create a chain of command, and have your emergency plan, policies, and procedures documented in your employee handbook. Review them when warned of an approaching storm.
  • Back-up your business data and test your “recovery” system. Scan documents that are not easily re-produced such as insurance papers, legal contracts, tax returns, and accounting statements to avoid water damage. Seal original documents in waterproof containers.
  • Remove and relocate valuables or fragile items.
  • Walk around the building and office and take photos pre-storm.

Step Two:
  • Contact your insurance agent regarding your coverage in the event of damage, or inability to operate (business interruption coverage). Check on wind/storm coverage and flood insurance. Think about liability insurance if sued by clients!
  • Decide on a back-up location where your business could run smoothly if damages occur on the original site.
  • Consider redirecting your phone lines and/or order lines.
  • Protect your building, office, electronics and equipment:
    • Sandbag areas subject to flooding.
    • Put up shutters or plywood.
    • Check the roof for leaks.
    • Remove tree branches or debris that might become projectiles in the storm.
    • Anchor or brace large pieces of office furniture, shelves, filing cabinets, etc.
    • Remember to secure outdoor items like signs, equipment etc.
    • Wrap office equipment like VOIP phones, copy machines and computers in plastic to protect against water damage.
    • Get computer towers off the floor, protect or disconnect wiring, arrange for IT or computer support for users or equipment that needs to remain operational.
    • Consider utilities – disconnect electric, gas etc. if appropriate. Remember this may affect your alarm or security system.

Step Three:
  • Gather safety supplies, as well as 3 days worth of water and non-perishable food and snacks, for employees should the disaster or hurricane strike quickly and without warning.
  • Be sure to have a generator available with enough gas. Have company vehicles gassed up as well.
  • Arrange for backup cell phone chargers and extra battery packs. Buy extra flashlights and regular batteries as well.
  • Have a first aid kit, a tool kit, and plenty of tarps and blankets available.

Post storm, assess basic damages like roof, water, and broken windows or equipment. Initiate the clean-up of the work-site. Do not turn on computer equipment if there are indications of power fluctuations, low air conditioning output, water on the floor, broken windows, or if damage is apparent. Safety in the workplace should never be overlooked. Depending on the severity of the storm, be as flexible as possible scheduling employees to return to work should they have property or family issues to resolve first.

Contact Us: Everything from severe winter weather, a flood or wildfire, a supply chain failure to a flu epidemic, or even an act of terrorism can put your business at risk of shutting down—either temporarily or permanently. Pre-disaster, your Fuoco Group professionals can assist you in evaluating risk to reduce exposure, and do a business impact analysis to minimize disruption. We can help you put financial controls and safeguards in place to mitigate exposure.

Post disaster, your Fuoco Group professionals can assist in the preparation and filing of documents to support casualty claims, and FEMA forms, as well as prepare the paperwork for the deduction of losses on tax returns. Need help with adjusters? SBA loans? We can assist here, and work with the IRS to refund your estimated tax payments if qualified.

Consider hazard mitigation BEFORE disaster strikes; investment in improvements NOW to save $$$ later. Your Fuoco Group advisors can assist in reviewing property insurance with your agent to ascertain adequate hazard, flood, and business interruption insurance.

Are you aware of these insurance options available for small businesses? Let us help you with:

•    Business Income Coverage: The purpose of “business income” coverage is to put the insured back in the same economic position the business was in before any damage occurred, throughout the repair or replacement process. Business Income means:
  1. Net income (net profit or loss before income taxes) that would have been earned or incurred; and,
  2. Continuing normal operating expenses, including payroll.
•    Extended Business Income: Additional coverage extends the “period of restoration” to the time at which business activity has fully recovered.
•    Extra Expense: This covers necessary expenses incurred during the “period of restoration” and could include not just rental expense for a temporary location, but also the cost to transfer office contents there, as well as preparing/painting/partitioning the temporary location. Add to that office equipment rental pending permanent replacement of destroyed equipment, and the expense of moving back to your permanent location. Additional expenses might be bonuses and allowances paid to regular employees for travel and overtime, or payroll for temporary employees.  Additional fees to expedite shipments could also be included.

Keep our toll free emergency hotline number handy: 855-534-2727. Our TFG Rapid Response Team is here to help clients control financial crises and resolve disaster related problems in order to keep their businesses up and running!

Keep in mind that May 24th through May 30th is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, start to follow NOAA at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov.

Remember the Florida Sales Tax Holiday for purchase of hurricane supplies is June 1st through June 7th. To see what items qualify, click here:  https://revenuelaw.floridarevenue.com/LawLibraryDocuments/2018/04/TIP-121704_TIP%2018A01-05%20FINAL%20RLL.pdf


In The News

Fuoco Group would like to share the exciting news that we have just opened a satellite office in the Fort Lauderdale area to better serve our Broward County clients and expand our footprint in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area.

Press and Events

2019 Best of Palm Beach County Award! We are proud to announce that Lou Fuoco, CPA, CEPA, of The Fuoco Group, has been chosen one of the Top 3 Finalists for The Palm Beach Post’s “Best of Palm Beach County” in the Finance category under Accountant! Thank you to all who voted for Lou – we will keep you posted as to the final results!
August 3, 2018 — Fuoco Group, is proud to announce that Russell Seyffarth, accountant in our Hauppauge office, has been selected as an Honoree in the Long Island Business News 30 Under 30 Class of 2018.