Physical Office Preparation

Before the event:

Prepare your team and systems

 Power, phone and internet

  • Have contact information for power, phone and internet companies should you need to check on service.
  • Determine minimum power needs to support customers - number of servers, computers, phone systems, lights, printers, etc.  Include amp drain from multiple power strips.
  • Research back-up power supply and telecom solutions. Once implimented test often.
  • Document the process for using back-ups.
  • Resources:  Choosing the Right Backup Generator

Alternate location

  • Have a written agreement and clear proccess for use of alternative locations (home offices, CAT vans, alternate business locations)
  • Set standards for back-up power (generators or UPS) and telecom solutions (fiber, landline, cell phone, wireless hotspot) for home offices or alternate locations  
  • Consider Hot and Cold sites and develop a test CAT process

Does your agency need  CAT vehicle? 

  • Is there need for a trailer or van and is it in the budget?
  • What equipment would your CAT location need post catastrophe (fuel, equipment, supplies)
  • Develop a deployment process and keep staff educated on the process (Where should it go? How do you notify clients?)
  • If it needs replaced, where will you find a replacement?


Prepare physical office location

Prepare to minimize damage:

  • Identify areas most vulnerable, and least vulnerable, to damage from a catastrophe (wind, rain, fire, rising water).
  •  Determine steps to minimize damage, such as: shutters or pre-cut plywood sections for windows, sandbags around doorways, moving equipment to interior portions of the office, fire suppression, etc.  
  • Identify which items of equipment, furniture, records, and supplies could be moved to safer portions of the office, or to off-premises locations.
  • Consider the need to elevate certain items off the floor if rising water is a serious  threat. Procure the equipment needed, such as blocks of wood or concrete  blocks.
  • Smaller items can  be stored on desks, or in restrooms (which are usually interior, windowless rooms). 
  • Identify promising sites, and  make  contact  with  the  owner  or leasing agent, so that final arrangements can be made in short order after a catastrophe if the need arises.

Record keeping

  •  If not fully paperless, be prepared to protect and secure all files, manuals, and records.
  • Tape cabinets and drawers shut, and elevate.
  • Cover all equipment, furniture, file cabinets, and storage containers for records with plastic (such as visqueen or garbage bags), and tape tightly.
  • If you have computers or servers on the ground, elevate them to the tops of desks or other higher locations, and unplug all electrical items, and turn off breakers before leaving the office.

Assessment of travel to facility for employees and clients

  • Checking with local and state associations for regulations for safety
  • If there is a known catastrophe, state EOC's may setup local insurance villages. Reach out to your state association in advance if these are predefined

 During the event:  

  • Seek safety
  • Keep tuned to news or other state channels and alerts
  • Execute previously communicated plan
  • Communicate with vendors (power, website, service providers, etc.)
  • Test systems safely if possible
  • Ensure safety and security of vehicle, and fuel.

After the event:

  • After ensuring family and home are safe, assess the safety and damage of staff, and see what remedies can be established to ensure safety of staff.
  • Once all staff and their issues are identified proceed to assess the safety of the building for the consumer as well as access as your building may be fine, but roadways may limit access
  • Proceed to asses the damage of the agency plant, and initiate your catastrophe plan.
  • Monitor power/back-up power and other services necessary for business
  • Follow up with your local catastrophe liaisons if your state has a CAT committee and if any insurance villages were enacted.
  • Monitor running condition of generator, ensure fuel needed to keep running is available.