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Preparation Matters For Businesses Dealing With Hurricanes

By Doreen Hemlock, Sun Sentinel
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Aug. 20--Tropical Shipping has a long-standing policy in its hurricane planning that helps get operations humming after a major storm: It lets employees bring their families to work and takes care of those relatives.

Employees often fail to return to work after severe storms because they worry about leaving their families without electricity or other basics. But Tropical tends to those needs at the job site, as best as it can.

"With all the storms in the Caribbean, we've never had [employee] no-shows, even if they lose their home," said Rick Murrell, chief executive of the Riviera Beach shipping line that specializes in the Caribbean.

Programs to help workers' families were among tips shared Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale at a session on hurricane preparedness, organized by the South Florida Disaster Resiliency Coalition. The nonprofit advocates a public-private partnership to cope with woes from floods to pandemics.

Speakers also offered this advice to businesses before the Sept. 10 peak of the hurricane season:

Insurance check: Make sure you have the insurance you think you have. Read your policies. You don't want to find out after a storm that you didn't have business interruption or flood coverage, said Brent Winans, vice president of Clear Advantage Risk Management in Delray Beach.

Documentation: Video or photograph everything, so if there are damages you have documentation for your insurer. Keep that documentation safe, perhaps remotely in the Internet cloud, Winans said.

Employee notification system: Develop a plan to contact employees. Fort Lauderdale-based Citrix Systems uses a software that pings the email and phone numbers of each employee and asks a "Yes/No" question to find out if the worker is safe, said John Lugo, senior business continuity analyst.

Relocation plan:, Keep a back-up plan to operate in case the workplace is damaged. That might include ways for employees to work from home, a pre-established relationship with an office park to use space if needed, or a travel contingency to move key employees to a company office outside South Florida, said Laurie LeLack, director of corporate risk management at Citrix.

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Relationships set: Have key relationships set and ready to mobilize after a disaster, including a restoration contractor. Building companies and others will be swamped with requests after a storm, and you want to be a priority. Big companies also may want to ask their insurance agent to assign a dedicated insurance claims adjuster for your account before a storm hits, said Winans.

dhemlock@sunsentinel.com, 305-810-5009

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(c)2014 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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