Hurricanes may not strike as suddenly as earthquakes or tornadoes, but they are still unpredictable and can cause an unparalleled amount of damage to infrastructure, property and human life. Damage to commercial real estate (CRE) is a serious financial concern for businesses located in vulnerable areas, which include most of the coastline along the Gulf Coast and southeastern US. Preparing for potential storms and establishing a recovery strategy are both essential for long-term commercial viability and risk management.
As an established provider of integrated environmental consulting and engineering services, ATC Group Services is positioned to help our clients overcome worst-case scenarios. Our seasoned team utilizes a wealth of collective experience and diverse professional skills to provide effective and appropriate customized solutions. We are committed to helping clients develop a strategy that satisfies their budgetary and risk-management goals. After Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, ATC staff worked hard in the days and weeks following the storms to help our affected clients in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean.
Assess Risks and Current Procedures
The first step toward hurricane preparedness is a full evaluation of the site itself. Proximity to the coastline or other bodies of water is important but there are many other factors to consider, as well. Our consultants look at flood zone risks, site drainage features and barriers, soil composition, local geography and structural materials to identify potential vulnerabilities to both wind and storm damage, as well as storm surge and flooding. Facilities housing potential contaminants and all procedures related to their handling are priorities during the assessment.
This assessment should also cover a thorough evaluation of all risk-management and emergency measures already in place. Some of these procedures can be adjusted and integrated into a broader emergency and disaster recovery plan. Businesses also need to consider all of the applicable laws and regulations relevant to their industry, location and specific nature of their operations.
Create an Emergency Plan
The ability to react quickly to an emerging crisis can make the difference between a minor setback and a complete disaster. Every commercial site at risk of severe hurricane damage should have an updated and established emergency plan. This plan provides employees and decision makers with a framework and essential checklist when facing an imminent storm. Procedures for providing emergency power, developing mitigation controls, ceasing volatile operations and bolstering chemical storage areas are just a few examples of what may appear in an emergency plan.
Develop a Disaster Recovery Strategy
Even if the storm only lasts for a day or two, the impact of a hurricane can linger on for much longer. ATC is still working in Puerto Rico—10 months after Hurricane Maria in 2017—to help our clients with site restoration activities. Unprepared sites can become seriously contaminated or structurally unsafe, which can cripple business operations on the premises for months or even years. That’s why businesses should have a disaster recovery strategy in place that they can implement to address issues arising from storm damage.
Damaged commercial sites should be inspected as soon as possible after hurricane activity subsides. Any signs of chemical contamination, water intrusion or structural damage can represent a serious threat to the safety of workers and other personnel onsite, as well as the surrounding environment and communities. It’s also important to address sources of ongoing damage quickly, particularly when there has been flooding. A thorough disaster recovery plan includes steps to address concerns in order of priority and severity, providing a roadmap for the remediation process.
Remediating Damaged Sites
Some of the risks associated with hurricanes are unavoidable, even with a comprehensive emergency and recovery plan. Following the post-storm assessment, commercial property owners have to find an affordable and effective way to get back to normal operating conditions. The sheer complexity and scope of hurricane remediation can be overwhelming, but with help from experienced environmental and engineering consultants, business owners can rest assured knowing that their property is being well taken care of and will be back up-and-running in no time.
ATC Group Services offers comprehensive site remediation solutions, including:
- Initial damage assessments including moisture intrusion surveys
- Asbestos and other contaminated material assessments that may be required prior to demolition and removal of any storm damaged materials
- Structural damage evaluations and assessments
- Water damage moisture mapping services, as well as observation and third-party oversight of microbial abatement activities
- Clearance sampling and testing after restoration activities
- Air quality consulting including fence line air monitoring in extreme cases of chemical releases and fires
- Contaminated waste management
- Chemical release and spill response and initial abatement activities
- Subsurface investigation
- Utility restoration
- Chemical containment, characterization and disposal management
Identifying and prioritizing the numerous risk factors impacting a particular site can be difficult on its own, and businesses have to do much more than that to survive a hurricane disaster. That’s why ATC Group Services offers advanced solutions to support clients in all of their hurricane preparation and remediation efforts. Please contact us to discuss our comprehensive consulting services or to learn more about the risks hurricanes pose to your commercial property.