In 2019 alone, floods and flash floods caused approximately $3.75 billion worth of crop and property damage across the U.S, including commercial properties. And just recently, Hurricane Ida ravaged several parts of the country with floods and heavy rainfall, causing economic damage that could tally up to $95 billion—which would make it the 7th costliest hurricane since 2000.
The economic effects of a strong hurricane can be devastating for both homeowners and businesses. Flooding alone can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to residential and commercial properties. And with climate change on the rise, it only makes sense for everyone to prepare for future hurricanes and other natural disasters.
For this article, we’ll be focusing on how to prevent flood damage for businesses, which is one of the most devastating effects of a hurricane—especially if you are in a flood-prone area.
1. Have a flood action plan in place
A good action plan against floods can mean the difference between coming out of the storm with only minimal damage and losing your business altogether. Whether you live in a flood-prone area or not, it is imperative that you have a plan on what to do in case a strong hurricane comes your way.
In general, your flood action plan should include:
- Emergency protocols. Employees should know what to do if a flash flood occurs. They must know when to stop operations when the rainfall gets too heavy; how to install protective barriers in all entrances; how to protect themselves during flooding, and so on.
- Evacuation plans. If your business is still operational in the middle of a storm, employees must know where to go in case a flash flood occurs. You should also have a robust contingency plan in case they are unable to evacuate from the premises by themselves.
- Power and water shutdowns. A great deal of flood damage occurs when power and water supplies are not shut down before the water rises. Employees must know how and when to shut down the power and water lines during inclement weather.
2. Perform an SWPPP inspection
A Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) is a guide to help prevent stormwater runoff from construction sites from causing damage to rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. If your business establishment is newly constructed, ensure that your contractor conducts a post-construction SWPPP inspection to ensure that your building won’t cause untoward damage to the environment in the event of a storm or a flood.
3. Buy flood barriers
Preventing floodwater from entering your establishment is the best way to minimize or even eliminate water damage to your property. Fortunately, flood barriers are now widely available to help prevent homeowners and businesses protect their properties during heavy rainstorms. And if you live in a flood-prone area, flood barriers are inherently essential.
Flood barriers are fairly easy to use. They are removable devices that are akin to Lego blocks because they are stackable and can be interlocked. If a storm is coming your way, you can readily install these barriers on all of your entrances to prevent floodwater from coming in. In fact, they are easy to install even when you are in a pinch—but it’s best not to wait until the water starts rising to install them.
4. Invest in flood glass
Flood glass is a special type of glass that is made to withstand flood conditions. Windows and doors made from flood glass are better than regular glass at protecting your building from floodwater and debris impact.
Flood glass may be costly upfront, but it makes for a great investment if you live in a flood- and hurricane-prone area. Not only do they protect your business against floodwater, but they can also withstand strong winds and strong impacts from flying debris.
5. Make your building more flood resistant
If you have the means to make modifications to your building, here are several ways you can make it more flood-resistant:
- For existing structures, you can lift the building and build a foundation underneath it.
- Dry floodproofing. Dry floodproofing can make your building more airtight (by adding sealants, shields, and secondary drainage, etc.) and minimize the risk of flood damage.
- Wet floodproofing. Damage-resistant materials, hydrostatic openings, and other wet floodproofing techniques can limit the damage to your building, but you should still expect significant amounts of post-flood cleanup.
If your business is in a flood-prone area, taking extra precautions to protect your establishment from flood damage is imperative to minimizing costs and generally protecting your business continuity. But with global warming on the rise, even businesses in non-flood-prone areas should still take one step ahead to protect their buildings from floods.