How Public Works can Prepare for Hurricane Season

Public works organizations are often one of the first groups called upon to help in emergency situations like hurricanes. It is a massive responsibility to be an early responder to a hurricane event. Even one misstep or miscalculation could have catastrophic effects across the community.

If your community exists within a hurricane-prone geographic area, there are several key questions to consider in advance of hurricane season, including:

  1. What is the storm’s progress? Check weather reports and updates often so you know when it will affect your region.
  2. What are your inventory levels? Restock essential assets that are running low before a hurricane lands.
  3. What are your fuel levels? Collaborate with your fleet team to ensure necessary fuel tanks are filled.
  4. Where are your generators? If your organization has backup generators, double check that they are maintained and operational in advance in case you lose electricity.
  5. How will you handle equipment you don’t stock? You may not have enough emergency generators or equipment. Set up a reciprocal sharing agreement with neighboring municipalities or pre-negotiated rental rates with local companies.
  6. How will you reach key personnel? Keep an updated list of contacts to connect with in case a hurricane occurs. In the middle of an emergency, you do not want to scramble to find the right phone number.
  7. What if your typical communication channels aren’t available? Make sure your key contact information has backups. If landlines suddenly become unavailable due to power outages, it is vital to have the cell numbers of your essential emergency contacts.

While assets, infrastructure, and vehicles are important, do not forget about your employees’ safety. When public works employees understand the emergency plan, they will feel more confident and protected when responding to a crisis.

Tip: Make safety training opportunities, like CPR, search & rescue, and basic first aid, available to your staff.

No matter how much you prepare in advance, the only true way to test your emergency plan is to experience an emergency. If your community experiences a hurricane this season, you should review your processes and response with your team afterwards and make note of which areas of the plan were effective and which need to be revaluated.

It is also important to review the emergency plan at regular intervals, even outside of the typical hurricane season. Emergencies, including hurricanes, snowstorms, and pandemics, may strike at a moment’s notice. For public works organizations, preparation is vital to a safe community.

An enterprise asset management system handles day-to-day tasks, like work order management and real-time labor tracking for the preventive maintenance of assets, but the system can also serve as a major turning point for creating and evaluating an emergency plan. The system tracks and manages all of your community’s assets, so you know which assets are ready to help in an emergency and which are not. When paired with a fleet and fuel management system, fuel levels and vehicle availability is also available.

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