While there is no guarantee all belongings will be safe during a hurricane, there are many ways individuals and businesses can mitigate damage to their financial documents, buildings, computer files and computer equipment during a storm.
Locals and organizations in different fields have advice that can help people prepare their businesses as they head out or stay in.
Matt McNeill, business class manager at Computer Warriors, 323 Eastwood Road in Wilmington, said the computer and phone repair and retail business gets a lot of inquiries on what to do with computers and servers. Here are his tips:
- Power down your servers and computers before the storm arrives if possible. Log into the device and do a proper shutdown; don't just pull the plug.
- Disconnect the power from the back of your computers and server. If you have a battery backup, power down the battery backup, and unplug it from the wall.
- Disconnect the Ethernet cables from the back of your computers and/or server. If there is a nearby lightning strike, the current can travel over your network lines and damage your equipment that way.
- Disconnect the power of extensive networking equipment devices, and also unplug them from your ISP's equipment, such as a cable modem or DSL modem. (Taking pictures of how everything is hooked up before you disconnect is a great idea.)
Eric Koreman, owner of Craft American Hardware, 7002 Wrightsville Ave. in Wilmington, said securing objects and moving them to higher ground is important.
- Remove any debris like mowing supplies and chairs; you don’t want to create havoc for your neighbors.
- Turn water and electrical appliances off and tie things down that are loose.
- Take furniture, such as chairs and desks, from downstairs to upstairs if you can.
The U.S. Chamber Foundation has a small business disaster preparedness guide
with tips on insurance and communication strategies.
- When disaster strikes, file a claim as soon as possible. Plan what items you will be required to provide (photos of equipment pre- and post-disaster).
- Consider an alert mechanism to keep your employees, customers, vendors, suppliers and stakeholders informed and regularly updated in multiple ways.
- Communicate often with customers to keep them informed of delays in delivery, alternatives, expectations and any compensation. Be solution-oriented.
- Consider how your company can help employees and their families access medical care, food, housing and other essentials.
Grayson Powell, general manager at Coldwell Banker Commercial Sun Coast Partners, 1430 Commonwealth Drive in Wilmington, said it might be too late for business owners to change their insurance plans but they can be proactive with communicating with employees and customers.
- Communicate with all employees through email and text and try to make sure that everyone is aware of what the plans are.
- Send out notices to customers that offices are shutting down early and how they might reach them during and after the storm.
Karen Durda, president of Century Accounting and Tax Services Inc., 4018 Oleander Drive in Wilmington, said protecting documents and backing up files is important.
- Make sure that you have backups of all your important data on your computer disk or cloud.
- Take insurance papers with you if you are leaving your office.
- Take checkbooks with you.
Durda said on the Century Accounting and Tax Services Facebook page that a dishwasher can be used as a safe place for important documents.