Hurricane seasons are predicted to become more intense year over year, so it may be a good idea to test to see how your management team would respond to a direct hit by super storm. In the absence of an actual hurricane, a tabletop exercise may be the best way to test your disaster preparedness plan.

Run the plan:

This resource from FEMA provides a download scenario planner and tester Prepare Your Organization for a Hurricane Playbook to help businesses (including churches and schools) prepare for a direct hit by a hurricane. This exercise takes about 90 minutes to run, and can be a good Friday afternoon workshop for your senior team.

Considerations:

  1. Select a lead planner, who works with leadership to select participants, adjusts the scenario description and questions to fit your community and organization, and plans logistics.
  2. Select a facilitator to lead the exercise discussion, provide updates, and prompt participants to interact.
  3. Participants from across your enterprise, including senior leadership, facilities management, communications and public affairs, information technology, corporate security, human resources, and legal. Third-party vendors such as phone, IT, data backup, food, and other services may be included.

The initial scenario is read aloud to the group. The one in the FEMA playbook begins with a Category 1 hurricane being spotted 200 miles off the coast of your local shoreline on Monday at 8 a.m. The hurricane is gaining strength and projected to make landfall within 72 hours, and forecasters are warning it could become a Category 4 hurricane. Questions include who is responsible for monitoring this situation, what information are you sharing with your employees, what are your immediate concerns, and what decisions should be made at this time.

Follow-up

After running the exercise, address gaps and recommended improvements identified by the team, documenting the changes in your company’s disaster plan. It is important to include names of who is responsible for disaster recovery tasks.

You should develop or update your organization’s emergency operations plan and test it at least annually. If you run a hurricane scenario test in your organization and find gaps, DII can help you close those gaps. Contact your representative for more information.

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