The most important thing you can do for your business in the aftermath of a hurricane is stay safe. Flooding, downed trees, and other damage mean you should keep yourself, your family, and your employees as far away from affected areas as possible until authorities give the OK to return to your homes and businesses.

Ideally, hurricane preparedness for businesses should start months ahead of time, long before hurricane season even arrives.  For business-critical employees, it is important that you have access to alternate workplace facilities, ideally one that you have contracted for ahead of time in preparation for this type of situation.

But there are several things every business can do even if you haven’t fully prepared for the worst-case scenario.

What businesses can do in the aftermath of a hurricane

If your business was in the direct path of a hurricane, you can expect prolonged power outages, flooding, and destruction of property from high winds, tree strikes and other debris. Here are several steps you can take toward recovery:

  1. Know you’ll be short staffed. In the immediate aftermath of a storm, anticipate that many employees will be unavailable as they care for their own families and properties. You need to identify which employees are business critical and make sure they can be functional as quickly as possible.
  2. Find connectivity. For those who can return to work, it will either have to be from home or from a mobile recovery unit, which can provide power, internet connectivity, and phone service in areas where those services haven’t yet been restored.
  3. Assess the damage. Once floodwaters have receded and authorities announce it’s safe to return to your building, proceed with caution. Don’t turn on power in the building before confirming it’s OK to do so. Inspect the building for structural damage and contact a salvage vendor if the damage is significant. Learn more about how to plan for and recover after a flood.

How to continue preparing once the storm has passed

Once you’ve returned to business as usual, it’s helpful to take stock of how your DR plan played out. Did you hit your recovery point and recovery time objectives? Did everything work as you expected?

Revisiting your DR plan is a great way to start to planning for the next hurricane or any disaster that can take your business down.

  1. Brush up on recovery plans and processes. Make sure you have a copy of your data stored off site and a plan and procedures in place to recover your business should a hurricane hit. Update your recovery procedures if needed and communicate them clearly to your team and your vendors and service providers.
  2. Test your plan. When a hurricane is bearing down and employees are evacuating, even smart plans can go awry. Test your plan at least twice a year so everyone involved in the plan knows their role and what problems might arise.
  3. Determine your application priorities. You shouldn’t have the same level of disaster recovery for all of your applications. Single out the mission-critical applications that your business can’t live without to ensure they’re recovered first. Determine which applications should be next in line, and which ones you can do without for several days.
  4. Map your assets and their relationships. Application dependency mapping will give you an accurate look into which applications run on which servers.
  5. Adjust your data protection strategy. If you only back up daily, can you afford to lose that much data if a hurricane hits just before the latest backup? Continuous data replication for mission-critical applications – might be more appropriate.
  6. Consider managed recovery. If your team can’t get to your remote site, a disaster recovery plan can unravel. By finding a partner to manage the recovery for you, you can concentrate on your primary site.
  7. Look to the cloud. It’s flexible, cost-effective, accelerates recovery, and makes data replication across your network easy. Understand what applications and workloads are best recovered in what type of cloud – some might be best recovered in a public cloud but others may need to go to a service provider cloud.

It’s no coincidence that September is National Preparedness month. Smack in the busiest part of hurricane season, it’s when preparedness is top of mind.

No matter what level of damage your business sustained in a hurricane, you can resolve in its aftermath to be better prepared for the next disaster, whether it’s a storm, a cyber attack, or another devastating and unexpected event.