Recovering From Natural Disasters
By Alyssa Browning
Natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires are tragic events that we don’t have any control over. However, as owners in the self-storage industry we can take measures to be prepared for and recover from these events.
The first step to recovering from the disaster is to be prepared for it in the first place. One of the most important aspect of preparation is having good insurance for your self-storage facility. Insurance can help reduce the financial impact of the devastation left behind after a storm or fire. Remember that insurance must be purchased before the event in order to be used and thus is a key component of preparation.
Another important aspect of preparedness is having an emergency kit that includes an emergency plan. Preparedness kits should include things like flashlights, water, evacuation plans, phone numbers, and anything else you think would be important for you and your staff members to have. The plans included in the kit should include what to do in a particular situation. For example, if there is a flood you may have a plan that includes closing down the facility and not allowing anyone inside. Your plan may also include phone numbers for who to call to help ensure the safety of managers or tenants who happen to be on site. Furthermore, phone numbers for post disaster cleanup and safety should be included as well.
Finally, if your area is prone to natural disasters that may affect your self-storage software, or other important business records it is important to back them up. Most storage unit software backs up nightly to help prevent any loss of information. However, if you use another type of record keeping system it is important to make sure those important documents are safe and sound during one of these events.
Post Disaster Recovery
Once the event has occurred all we have left to do is damage control. If you have taken precautionary steps hopefully this portion will be a little less stressful.
The most important part of recovery is safety. The safety of your staff members and tenants should be the primary concern when dealing with post disaster situations. Many self-storage owners have a different viewpoint on letting people enter the facility after a flood or other event. However, a good rule of thumb is to only let people on site after an inspector has determined it is safe to do so. This not only protects managers and tenants but it also protects you from potential lawsuits and unnecessary liability.
The next thing to do is to contact your insurance company and any other parties involved in the potential losses associated with natural disasters. It is important to talk to your insurance to figure out what steps you should take to (1) prevent further damages (2) prevent liability issues and (3) get your claim processed as quickly as possible. In these types of situations communication is of great importance. Once your insurance has deemed it appropriate to begin cleanup it is important to do so.
Once cleanup has been completed and people are safe you should login to your self-storage software and make updates to get your business back on track. Resuming business as normal will be a difficult task after such a traumatic event, but communication with your storage-software provider, insurance, and cleanup crew can make the process much more bearable.