Hurricane prep: Here's how Corpus Christi businesses can become disaster-ready

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Storm surge and flooding are the greatest threats to Corpus Christi in a hurricane. Kirsten Crow/Caller-Times, Kirsten Crow/Caller-Times

Preparing your business for a disaster or emergency is a lot like preparing your family. 

About 50 business and agency leaders from Nueces County gathered Monday to hear from Corpus Christi’s Emergency Management Office about preparing their families and operations for disasters. 

Seconds count when a storm approaches. 

The message from emergency officials on Monday was simple: Plan ahead.

“(They) go hand in hand together — a business plan and a family plan,” said Billy Delgado, Corpus Christi’s emergency management coordinator. Delgado has held the position for seven years and was at the helm of the agency in August 2017, when Hurricane Harvey rumbled ashore along the Coastal Bend

“How is your business going to run afterwards? Do you have alternate plans on where you’re going to go? At what time are you going to close the facility? How do you protect your facility?”

More than just hurricanes 

Saturday marked the first day of 2019 hurricane season, but hurricanes aren’t the only emergencies Corpus Christi has to deal with.

More: Here’s how to watch out for storms during hurricane season

A tornado touched down in May 2015 west of Crosstown Expressway and north of Gollihar Road. And a tanker truck rollover in April 2017 on the Harbor Bridge caused its gas tanks to catch fire.

Create a plan 

The time to prepare for a disaster is not when an emergency strikes, but before, emergency officials said. Families and businesses should have an ongoing contingency plan: 

  • Consider possibilities, but plan for probabilities.
  • Weigh which hazards would require evacuation versus sheltering-in place.
  • Identify your network.
  • Create a plan for your family or business.
  • Prepare your apartment, house or business facility.
  • Gather supplies and store important documents in a sealed bag.

More: Here’s what you need in your ultimate hurricane preparedness list

Keep your business running 

More than 40 percent of businesses do not open again after a disaster.

Business owners and managers need to practice their plans with employees long before a disaster strikes through education, training and orientation for new employees.

  • Promote family preparedness.
  • Develop a crisis communication plan for the business.
  • Support your staff after the emergency.

More: NOAA: Don’t be fooled by ‘near-normal’ hurricane predictions for South Texas

Prioritizing a businesses’ most important functions is key to deciding whether to stay open:

  • Identify obligations and impacts if not performed.
  • Determine needed resources and dependencies.
  • Identify goals.
  • Develop recovery strategies such as — alternate work sites, emergency purchasing plans, alternate suppliers, emergency service contacts and coordination with business network.

If a business has to shut down, owners need to be prepared financially. They also should have human resource solution plans for their employees:

  • Have access to cash and credit to survive a shutdown.
  • Handle employees’ payroll and leave while also supporting them.

Staying up to date 

  • — Sign up for notifications online to keep up with information from city and Nueces County officials during an emergency. 
  • 2-1-1 in Texas — Call this toll free, 24/7 dialing code to connect to resources including legal, health, senior veteran and disaster services. 
  • The State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry — Register through 2-1-1 and provide information on specific situations to emergency management officials to help you evacuate safety. 

Kathryn Cargo follows business openings and developments while reporting on impacts of the city government’s decisions. Help support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Caller-Times.


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