EXCLUSIVE: Hurricane readiness management: navigating location and costs

Palm trees in hurricane

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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.

A framework

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.

Impact of location and resources on readiness

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.

Gulf Coast of the US

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:

  1. Comprehensive evacuation plans: swift evacuation plans for residents and tourists
  2. Public-private partnerships (PPPs): efficient coordination between public and private sectors in readiness and response
  3. Strong building codes: strict adherence to building codes that withstand hurricanes
  4. Resource staging: stockpiling resources like food, water, medical supplies and emergency response teams
  5. Public awareness campaigns: educating residents about evacuation routes, emergency shelters and preparedness measures

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:

  1. Resource sharing: neighboring countries and territories cooperate closely, sharing resources, expertise and response efforts
  2. Regional organizations: entities like the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) promote cooperation, resource exchange and skill development
  3. Early warning systems: timely information through early warning systems and meteorological forecasts
  4. Strong infrastructure: enforcing the construction of robust infrastructure to withstand hurricanes and minimize damage
  5. Community involvement: integrating traditional knowledge and community-based methods into disaster preparedness and response

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.

Setting the stage for business continuity success

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):

Business continuity standards

  • Framework for preparedness: standards like ISO 22301 provide a structured process for preparedness, identify risks, assess vulnerabilities and develop comprehensive continuity plans
  • Best practices: these standards encompass industry-recognized guidelines for risk management, crisis response and recovery and are proven resilience methods
  • Credibility and trust: compliance with established standards demonstrates an organization’s commitment to resilience and preparedness, enhancing stakeholder credibility and trust

Available resources

  • Financial preparedness: adequate financial resources are essential for implementing robust resilience measures and investing in backup systems, disaster recovery solutions and risk mitigation strategies
  • Skilled workforce: a skilled and knowledgeable workforce trained in emergency response, crisis management and business continuity contributes to an organization’s ability to adapt and recover from disruptions
  • Access to expertise: access to external experts and consultants in areas like risk assessment, crisis communication and technology recovery can be invaluable during times of crisis

Strong building codes

  • Physical resilience: strong building codes contribute to the physical resilience of an organization’s facilities, reducing the risk of property damage and business interruptions
  • Safety: building codes prioritize safety for employees and customers and are more likely to protect human lives during disasters
  • Insurance premiums: compliance with building codes can reduce insurance premiums, a reduced risk associated with well-constructed and resilient buildings

Direct benefits to organizational resilience and 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. 

  1. Enhanced preparedness: adopting practices like risk assessment, scenario planning and developing clear protocols for business continuity 4R
  2. Improved resilience: investment in backup power systems, data recovery solutions and secure storage to withstand hurricane impacts
  3. Effective communication: implement transparent and timely communication with employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders to maintain trust and ensure safety
  4. Collaborative partnerships: create partnerships to collectively share resources, expertise and best practices for disaster response and recovery
  5. Employee safety and well-being: implement evacuation plans, training programs and support services to ensure workforce safety during emergencies
  6. Supply chain resilience: diversification of suppliers, establishment of contingency plans and maintenance of open lines of communication to manage disruptions caused by natural disasters
  7. Business continuity planning: recognition of the importance of well-defined plans to continue critical operations and minimize financial losses during and after disasters
  8. Risk management strategies: incorporation of risk management practices from readiness initiatives to identify vulnerabilities, assess potential impacts and develop strategies to mitigate adverse effects of hurricanes and other disasters
  9. Adaptation and flexibility: adopting strategies to pivot, adjust and recover quickly in the face of unexpected challenges from natural disasters
  10. Public image and reputation: prioritize responsible and transparent practices that contribute to long-term trust and goodwill by observing how successful readiness initiatives positively affect public image and reputation

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.

About the author

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.

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