Gamal Newry, President of Preventative Measures, discusses the lessons to be learned from countries prone to hurricanes, revealing how best to prepare against and mitigate weather-related risks.
To begin discussing risk management, business continuity and hurricane readiness, response, recovery and resumption (the 4Rs), we will start with the Sendai Framework, a UN-sponsored initiative covering 2015 – 2030.
This framework outlines global disaster risk reduction targets, including reducing global disaster mortality and affected populations by 2030.
It also aims to cut direct disaster economic losses relative to global GDP and improve the resilience of critical infrastructure and services. This particular target is where we will place most of our focus.
This framework provides a backdrop for business continuity managers to leverage organizational implementation strategies, reducing the impact of hurricanes and typhoons on people (employees and customers), assets, infrastructure and processes while maintaining effective stakeholder communication.
Additionally, it supports the organization’s reputation as a reliable partner.
Although we can predict the most active time for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic (June – November) and the Pacific (April – December) each year, climate change has made weather predictions less reliable.
This uncertainty makes the 4Rs more time-consuming and costly as such strategies and tactics must be well thought out, tested, exercised and validated.
Despite varying specifics, the core principles of readiness management remain consistent: risk assessment, planning, communication, resource allocation and stakeholder collaboration.
The success of these initiatives depends on factors such as government support, community engagement, public awareness and adaptability to changing conditions and emerging challenges.
Geography, climate, infrastructure, poverty, resources, regulations and governance contribute to variations in readiness strategies across different regions.
Let’s compare readiness management and financial implications in two locations: the Gulf Coast of the US and the Caribbean.
This region is highly vulnerable to hurricanes, with a history of significant storms like Katrina in 2005, which to date is the costliest storm at $193.8 billion and more recent ones such as 2017’s Harvey and 2022’s Ian, costing $155 billion and $115.2 billion respectively.
Some of the mitigation strategies to reduce the impact of hurricanes in this region include:
Higher financial resources due to substantial federal, state and local funding help to strengthen disaster preparedness, response and recovery, which can also help with developed infrastructure, including building codes, flood protection systems and evacuation routes.
Businesses and individuals can manage financial risks associated with hurricanes through insurance coverage and a mature insurance market.
Hence, businesses often invest in robust business continuity planning to mitigate potential financial losses during and after hurricanes.
The Caribbean faces hurricane challenges, with varying infrastructure regulations and resources across its island nations. Key strategies include:
However, several Caribbean countries, like Haiti, Saint Lucia, Jamaica and The Bahamas, have financial limitations in allocating significant disaster 4R funding.
Hurricanes can also cause extensive economic damage, affecting tourism, agriculture and infrastructure, significantly straining national budgets and impacting funding for further resilience strategies.
Despite these financial constraints, community-based initiatives and traditional knowledge can contribute to resilience.
Jurisdictions with effectively implemented disaster reduction initiatives and robust regulatory regimes mandating continued improvement are good case studies and best practices that enhance private sector resilience efforts.
Proactive planning, resilience-building and collaboration are essential to a successful business continuity program (BCP):
In today’s dynamic and uncertain business landscape, adapting and thriving in the face of unforeseen challenges is paramount.
Organizations operating in regions prone to tropical cyclones and other natural disasters have harnessed valuable insights and best practices.
These lessons underscore the need for businesses to navigate and thrive in the face of adversity, ultimately ensuring the safety of employees, maintaining trust with stakeholders and securing long-term success in an unpredictable world.
Guidelines like the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and ISO 22301 can be leveraged to improve planning and readiness management.
This is crucial in reducing the overall economic impact of hurricanes and other disasters.
Risk assessment, planning, communication, resource allocation, collaboration, compliance with business continuity standards, resource readiness and adherence to building codes all enhance organizational resilience.
Successful readiness management leads to organizational strength, improved preparedness, communication and collaborative partnerships.
In these ever-evolving times, the lessons we’ve explored from disaster-resilient nations and the corporate sector’s response to natural disasters offer invaluable guidance.
They underscore the importance of proactive planning, resilience and cooperation to ensure business continuity and long-term success.
As we navigate the uncertainties of the future, these principles remain steadfast, guiding us toward a more resilient and adaptable tomorrow.
Gamal Newry is the President of Preventative Measures, a loss prevention and asset protection training and consulting company specializing in policy and procedure development, business security reviews and audits as well as emergency and crisis management.
Comments can be sent to PO Box N-3154 Nassau, Bahamas or via e-mail to [email protected].
This article was originally published in the October edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.