Author: Donna Conneely
As is evidenced by the recent significant expansion of the FEMA floodplain maps, flood risk is on the increase nationwide. It does not matter whether the increased risk is from climate change, new construction in risky areas, or sea level rise. The fact remains that more and more properties are now located in areas of high flood risk, and the threat of flood loss to residential and business property alike is increasing.
While many business owners rightfully fear and protect against fire damage and loss, it is in fact much more likely that the business will suffer flood-related loss than fire-related loss. And yet, many businesses are woefully under-protected for flood damage! In this week’s post, we will examine some ways that prudent business owners can proactively defend their property against flood loss.
The first step might be to assess the area in which the property is located. If the property is located within the FEMA floodplain map, strong flood prevention measures should be taken. These may include the installation of automatic flood barriers or flood panels, construction of protective berms, or even moving the business to a safer zone.
If the site is in an area of low to medium flood risk, less stringent protections may be utilized. One of the most important steps is to ensure that valuable items are stored in an elevated location. For example, an electronics shop located in a flood plain would ideally have automatic flood panels that will protect the inventory around the clock. Even so, the valuable stock should be kept high off the floor, in store rooms on the higher floors, rather than in a basement.
Flood panels, removable or automatic, can easily protect the premises from waters a meter high or more. These panels give the business owner valuable time to move the inventory to a safer location, and will greatly reduce risk — as well as flood insurance premiums.
No matter how well protected, there are catastrophic events that may overwhelm even the most prepared business. In this case, a second line of defense is required. In this situation, a business owner must be prepared to save inventory and equipment by raising it above the water level. This requires advance planning! The business should be equipped with shelves and storage areas high above the historic floodwater levels. Flood panels or barriers can buy the time needed to relocate the valuable items, but there must be a safe place to store the items until the water recedes.
After the floodwaters drain away, a prudent business owner must be prepared for major cleanup. If the owner is well-prepared and/or lucky, most of the inventory has been saved. Now the hard work of cleaning up the mess begins. Will you, as the business owner, be looking up flood damage services on the Internet along with hundreds or thousands of others? Or will you have made arrangements in advance with a reliable service that will put your business first in that long waiting list for emergency cleanup services? Advance planning, pre-installed flood panels, and above all, preparedness will make the difference between inconvenience and disaster.