The 2004 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the worst in recent history. Florida was hit by four hurricanes and Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia were also declared disasters due to damages from the storms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted that 2005 will be “an extremely active season”, with an expected seasonal total of 18-21 tropical storms, with 9-11 becoming hurricanes, and 5-7 of these becoming major hurricanes.
EH&E assists many clients from New England to Florida to Texas in maintaining business operations while addressing water damage and mold contamination from hurricanes, floods and storms. The strong winds coming from alternating directions and heavy downpours of a hurricane can cause significant structural damage, water damage, and mold contamination in a building. Hurricane damage has resulted in some buildings uninhabitable and left others with multimillion damage repair bills. Based upon its disaster experience, EH&E offers the following tips to assist owners and property managers in preparing for natural disasters including hurricanes.
Proactive building inspections for wind and water damage vulnerabilities
Sound preparation can minimize damage should a hurricane or tropical storm hit your area. This preparation should seek to reduce the building’s vulnerability to wind and water damage. Conducting an inspection of the building’s roof and curtain wall can identify underlying conditions that might result in a loss of envelope integrity. For example, a roof-mounted bathroom exhaust fan pulled from its mounts by high winds can result in torrential rain water pouring into the building, penetrating all floors, and causing extensive water damage. Other common sources of water intrusion are failures in the building envelope, particularly around doors and windows, broken windows, and cracked foundations.
EH&E recommends that the building inspection serve to identify weak points and, where feasible, to take steps to reduce the likelihood of failure in a storm. For example, clearing roof drains as often as possible is critical in reducing ponding and water intrusion via seams and flashing. Evaluating neighboring structures such as carports, billboards and high retail signs can identify possible structures that may become airborne and impact the building during high winds. In addition, power failures may permit humid, tropical air into the building because the air handling system is no longer running. A plan to properly ventilate and condition the interior spaces as soon as possible after a storm is key to preventing mold growth.
To receive EH&E’s Natural Disaster Readiness Self-Checklist and to discuss EH&E’s support services, please contact Glen Hadwen in the Miami office at (800) 825-5343 or send a request via email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Advance planning with business continuity specialists and emergency response contractors
Following a disaster, how far down on the wait list is your company for support? The time to identify outside resources to assist in disaster recovery is not when after crisis strikes but prior to it. Evaluating and negotiating pricing and contract terms, prior to the next disaster (like now), is crucial in minimizing the response time for support and the time to become familiar with the building and property. Some insurance carriers will offer discounts on property/casualty coverage to clients with emergency services contracts in place.
Emergency response agreements (ERAs) are becoming popular with vendors of recovery support services to address immediate needs such as emergency power, window and glass damage, water and debris removal, emergency drinking water supplies, construction management, and insurance consulting. ERAs prioritize support for clients under contract such that within a guaranteed timeframe, onsite support will be provided as per the negotiated contract. Be sure that the ERA spells out clearly the scope of services to be provided along with guaranteed response times, quality assurance expectations, work completion benchmarks, labor rates, insurance coverages, and other related costs.
EH&E supports clients with development and critique of emergency response plans and pre-qualification of vendors for critical services as above to ensure mission continuity be it a multi-story seaside condominium building or resort, commercial office building, high-tech biotech lab with critical environmental controls, or medical center with ongoing support for patients and the community.
For a free copy of our Natural Disasters Readiness Checklist, visit our web site at http://www.eheinc.com/serv_emergency.htm .