As hurricane models shift, local businesses should prepare and plan now.

The Hamilton County Development Authority (HCDA) is reminding the county’s businesses to plan and prepare for Hurricane Irma as the storm develops in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the National Weather Service, hurricanes are among nature’s most powerful and destructive phenomena with an average of 12 tropical storms, six of which become hurricanes forming over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico during hurricane season. It is critical to know what actions to take for your family and your business both before, during and after the storm.

“As Floridians, we can never let our guard down when it comes to storm preparedness and safety,” said Susan Ramsey, executive director of the Hamilton County Development Authority. “Taking the necessary steps not only for our families but also our businesses can mean the difference between staying open to service the needs of our community or a business shutting down.”

Below are hurricane tips and resources for businesses as compiled from the National Weather Service, FEMA and the Small Business Development Center.

  1. Documentation: Gather all pertinent documents related to insurance, financial information and professional services. Files should be uploaded to a cloud system and electronically on a USB drive. Keep hard copy documentation in waterproof containers.
  2. Employee Contact Information: Ensure you have an emergency communication plan with all employees in place prior to the storm, evacuation or threat. Develop a phone‐tree system to contact all employees.
  3. Disaster Supply Kit: Use the Florida Department of Emergency Management’s website to build a disaster supply kit with water, food, medications, first aid supplies, cash and more.
  4. Building Safety: Take the following steps at your business location so that items outdoors will not blow away or cause damage: remove all loose debris; anchor or relocate all nonessential equipment to a safe indoor location; secure storage of flammable liquid drums, or move them to a sheltered area (but never into main facility areas); anchor all portable buildings (e.g., trailers) to the ground; secure large cranes and other heavy equipment; make sure outdoor signs are properly braced.

For more detailed information download, review and implement the steps listed in the checklists below.