Here is a question.
What is the greater of two inconveniences for businesses: COVID-19 or an active hurricane season?
Good business leaders prepare for hurricane season because it makes sense and allows an enterprise to operate utilizing specific guidelines prior to and after a weather event.
Business owners know, even if their operations are suspended or facilities are destroyed, there is a good possibility that the culmination of good planning, loans, government assistance and hard work will allow them to resume operations again.
The business community – already waging a tedious resistance to a virus none of us can see, but are well aware of its destructive nature to health and livelihoods – has to plan for the new 2020 hurricane season of which the National Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) forecasts as “above normal.”
According to a May 21, 2020 press release from NOAA “The outlook predicts a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 30 percent chance of a near-normal season and only a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.
“NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which six to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70 percent confidence. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.”
Why such a dire forecast?
“The combination of several climate factors is driving the strong likelihood for above-normal activity in the Atlantic this year. El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are expected to either remain neutral or to trend toward La Nina, meaning there will not be an El Nino present to suppress hurricane activity. Also, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, coupled with reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon all increase the likelihood for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Similar conditions have been producing more active seasons since the current high-activity era began in 1995,” according to NOAA.
Considering the current timing of trying worldwide events, a crazy hurricane season seems about par for the course.
A business owner who is in doubt about current and forecast predicaments could suffer. They may want to heed the words of Benjamin Franklin who said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
How to prepare for hurricane season? Get on an online search engine and type in the words “2020 hurricane season preparedness.” Also, a business owner or executive would be smart to also search “2020 hurricane season preparedness and COVID19,” because the advice differs a bit.
For instance, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards held a press conference to emphasize that state residents should plan for the hurricane season with COVID-19 in mind.
He explained that due to COVID-19, any hurricane evacuation order will be made earlier in order for the public to get to safe a haven. The governor also said evacuation centers will follow COVID-19 health protocols.
If the government is thinking about those types of specifics, then business owners and management teams ought to have the same conversations and considerations.
Small businesses should pay heed even more so.
According to the United States Chamber Foundation, “43 percent of small-to-medium businesses fail after a disaster, and another 25 percent of business that do reopen, will fail within two years because they did not have a disaster plan. Having a disaster plan means the difference between your business recovering after a disaster or closing forever.”
With all of these considerations, the Alliance/Chamber SWLA implores the regional business community to be smart, research available resources, and plan. Nature is unpredictable and the best we can do is respect that fact.