Hurricane season is coming, and while they’re called natural disasters, they can feel anything but natural to your community. If your nonprofit operates in an Atlantic Storm Zone, you know that during a storm, serving your community could suddenly become a vital part of your nonprofit’s operation. With storm’s growing in intensity, and recovery efforts continuing to be a major concern in the East and Gulf Coastal regions, Here’s what you need to do in advance to be prepared for storm season 2019:
1. Have a healthy stock of sterile water
When storms first get predicted, and when tropical storms get elevated to hurricane status, communities usually wind up with a shortage of basic supplies due to runs on gas, batteries, canned foods, and especially water. To best serve your community, and to keep the water shortages from getting worse as a storm approaches, make sure to have a healthy stockpile of sterile or bottled water on hand before storm season starts in June.
Always store more than you think you need. Not only will this water be used for consumption, but some of it may need to be used for cooking, making baby formula, bathing, cleaning, or other basic needs that may arise, and these other tasks can be big strains on a small water supply.
2. Make sure you’ve packed prep-kits in advance, and keep item checklists on hand
You can access all kinds of Hurricane Safety Checklists (food and dietary needs, First Aid supplies, shelter and tools, documents, etc.) that you and your community will want to have through the Hurricane Safety website.
Make sure you have them on hand to pass out to constituents before an approaching storm hits, and have the necessary items prepared in advance for those who do not prep their own.
Putting together the items can be turned into a donation and volunteer event for your community in advance of storm season.
3. Make sure that your data is in the cloud
Having your data stored in the cloud could save you a big headache. Building damage could ruin paper documents, power outages could erase unsaved material, and even on premise tech could be at risk — ruining any already saved information. Make sure your data is stored remotely to keep your efforts from being a total wash. Literally. As an added bonus, if your staff needs to evacuate due to flooding or damage, you can still access your data from anywhere at anytime. We get that clouds aren’t usually the preferred weather, but during a violent storm, having access to a digital cloud can save your team thousands of hours of recovery work when you could be focused on serving your community.
4. Create and save custom intake forms for both online and offline use
If the storm is powerful enough, lots of people may need services for the first time, and those people will need to apply for your programs and services. Make sure you’re keeping track of all your new and current constituents throughout the storm and recovery process with custom intake and program forms to track your efforts.
In 2019, it’s hard to imagine a life without the internet, but a strong hurricane during the storm season can knock us all the way back to 1980 when paper forms and faxing ruled the world. Make sure you have blank, hard copies saved to a computer, and physical copies printed out of all your intake and other program forms, that way your ability to track efforts won’t be halted in case of an outage.
Once the storm has passed, you’ll want to record all your efforts and upload them digitally into the cloud. Be sure any physical forms are laid out in a format that makes it easy to upload the information to the cloud and that the new material will play well with your other, prerecorded data.
5. Learn from your past
Has your organization has been through a storm before? Maybe other organizations in similar areas have? Dedicate some time this spring to do some research into past occasions that happened either in your community or outside it and how you or other similar organizations responded, concentrate on the data. What went well? What could have been better? Take a day or two to put together a new plan based on previous experiences so you can be the most prepared.
6. Keep your eyes open for available disaster funding opportunities
The Red Cross and FEMA are two good sources to apply for disaster funding in the case of a violent and damaging storm. You can access information on which storms they have open projects for and how to apply on their websites.
7. Be safe
Know when to evacuate and when to stay. We know that you will want to help those in need, to help your community while it’s hurting, but don’t put yourself or your staff in danger. Follow public safety instructions and know if you’re in a potential flood zone.
Being prepared for storm season can really make a difference. Make sure your organization is ready when the storms come so you can spend less time planning and more time serving.