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There’s a 100% chance a hurricane will strike somewhere in 2019. Be prepared!

Hurricane season preparedness

By Scott Ewing, North America Engineering Leader

Don’t know why there’s no Severe Weather Preparedness Plan for your business? With the start of hurricane season now’s not the time to whistle that’s time to change that!

No sooner do you fire up the barbeque for the official start of summer, then the hurricane season arrives and stays with you all the way through Thanksgiving! Forecasters have been working hard at determining what to expect of this year’s storm activity to take place from June 1 to November 30. What’s it looking like? That depends on who you ask.

NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane report is predicting what they call a ‘near-normal’ season, while Colorado State University forecasters are anticipating above average activity, and so on. What’s your takeaway?

To quote a phrase, be prepared. Period. If you happen to be in the way of any one of the 9-15 named storms anticipated this year — 2-4 of which may have winds upwards of 111 mph or more to classify as a major hurricane — you will have little time and resources then to get provisions together, gather and protect important documents, secure backup systems, and/or plan and put into action any action, re-opening or even a relocation strategy to keep you, your employees and your family safe. You can then be relieved when December rolls around if you were passed over without incident.’s worth doing. Here’s why.

Eight years in a row, hurricane season has now cost over $2B more than its long-term average, resulting in an $8b line item in the U.S.’s overall disaster recovery bill. Last year, that total, which tallied up hurricanes Michael and Florence and the western wildfires, was approximately $73B. Even one single hurricane can result in tremendous destruction if it hits you. Hurricane Florence went on record as one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes to ever impact the Carolinas, causing 51 deaths and record flooding in September 2018. Not to be outdone, the following month Michael blew in as the most intense hurricane on record to make landfall along the Florida Panhandle. It caused at least 45 deaths and widespread devastation from Mexico Beach, Fl, through to Georgia, the Carolinas, and even into Virginia. If you and your business were in either of those strike zones, chances are you may not be reading this right now.

For businesses, protecting the bottom line in order to remain open, or to re-open quickly after a hurricane disaster, requires taking steps now to prevent or reduce resulting damage should your business be in the path of a violent storm. Where will this year’s hurricanes hit? Who knows. What all prognosticators agree on and will tell you is that you need to get ready now

Reduce risk; increase response time and peace of mind
Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky? If it’s stormy weather, well, you still may want to be ready for it. And if you are not prepared for what severe weather can cause, now’s the time to do it. It just takes one storm and one failure to act/respond, and the claims/damages/losses can become devastating for clients (and for us!). Here are some important actions you can take now for your business to reduce or prevent risk of costly damage...and gain peace of mind. (Our Severe Weather Planning Checklist can help!)

  • Establish a severe weather emergency response team.  Coordination and quick response are key. With each major sector of your business represented, meet periodically to put together a response plan, and identify all important resource and personnel contact information, meet up location, volunteers and leaders to monitor conditions and events as they unfold, and respond accordingly and key tasks to cover. 
  • Develop, implement, and review your Severe Weather Emergency Response Plan.  Each major sector of your business should have a documented checklist of functions and responsibilities, including Communications, Computer Systems/IT, Operations/Production, Maintenance/Security, and Shut Down/Start Up. 
    Note: Not only should there be a Severe Weather Season Checklist, but also an Off-Season Checklist to review prior to the severe weather season to keep on top of areas in your business that face risk of damage during a storm.
  • Establish proactive agreements with service recovery contractors NOW. After an event, contractors will be in short supply, and right after a storm is not the time to haggle over terms and conditions. Unfortunately, this happens all the time, severely delaying repairs and recovery.
    • Prepare by developing blanket order contracts with pre-agreed terms and conditions and/or retainer fees to ensure that your business gets the highest priority response after an incident. This will help avoid delays and speed up the process for repairs and recovery.


" ...right after a storm is not the time to haggle over terms and conditions. 


  • Establish “Authority to Act” agreements at local level. This means that whoever is in charge at the time that disaster strikes has pre-approved authority to hire contractors on an emergency and overtime basis, and eliminate needless hours of delay. Ahead of time:

    • Develop agreements that empower local level managers to take action in severe weather situations (i.e. hurricane, flooding, windstorm, hail etc.). Identify, document, and agree upon the key actions to take in these situations such as who to call, how to make temporary repairs, and how to authorize shut down if needed.
    • Also, be sure to document the specific actions local managers should take in initiating the response from contractors and identify the specific money/budget they can spend in initial response and recovery efforts. 
  • Review AXA XL’s Severe Weather Planning Guide. Helping you prepare for the unpredictable, a helpful toolkit compiled by our Risk Consulting team to help businesses’ weather preparedness. 
    • For additional information on preventing flood-related losses at your facility, please contact your local Risk Consultant who can assist you with property loss prevention any time of the year. 

About the author...
Scott Ewing is North America Engineering Leader for AXA XL Risk Consulting. Need some hurricane preparedness guidance, he and his team are ready to help. Reach out to Scott at

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AXA XL is the P&C and specialty risk division of AXA.