How to recover from a natural disaster and get your facilities up and running

October 09, 2017  •  Alayna Giesting

It seems like natural disasters are continuing to become more frequent. The Atlantic Ocean just saw its busiest hurricane month ever recorded. The results were devastating, and our deepest sympathies are with all those who were affected.

While having a disaster plan for your organization can reduce your chance of experiencing damage, disasters still come out of left field and can leave you scrambling for help. If the recent hurricanes have you and your facilities feeling vulnerable, take a look at our recovery suggestions. While you can never truly be prepared for disaster, let our advice below give you peace of mind that recovering from disaster is possible.

File a business insurance claim first

I know the only thing on your mind after disaster is cleaning up the mess. But stop! Your first job is to file an insurance claim. After you do this, your insurance provider will send you a proof of loss form, which you can either fill out yourself or with the help of an insurance adjuster.

Adjusters are professionally trained to assess damage, so if you are even a little skeptical about your ability to properly fill out the proof of loss form, you should probably plan to work through it with him/her.

Your adjuster will also walk through your facilities and review all the information with you to determine coverage.

Tip: you should always follow the advice of your adjuster because you may not be covered for unapproved repairs.

Be sure to supply your adjuster with as much information as possible about the damage to your facilities, as this will allow your claim to be settled faster.

Check out this article for 6 easy steps when filing an insurance claim.  

How FMX can help: You can list your insurance provider as a contact in FMX. If you have to make an insurance claim, you can access your insurer’s contact information in FMX from any mobile device or computer. So, don’t worry about digging through your desk after the disaster – it’s now at the tip of your fingers!

Clean up time!

After you’ve been given the ‘all-clear’ from your insurance company and emergency services to begin the clean up process, you can finally get your hands dirty! Make sure to follow these tips in order to make the clean up process as safe and effective as possible:

  • Turn off your gas and electricity. Because of extensive damage to your facilities, it’s not safe to be there while the gas and electricity are still running. However, before you do this, a licensed electrical contractor needs to inspect your switchboard, wiring, equipment, and appliances to make sure they are safe to turn off.
  • Salvage waterlogged equipment. The most important step to successfully recovering water-damaged equipment is to remove the moisture from the electrical insulation before it gets used again. Sounds easy enough, right? You can just apply some hot air for a day or two and be good to go. Well, not so fast! Heat actually deteriorates your equipment and will break down the insulation system, resulting in failure. Make sure you don’t apply heat above 194 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure proper care of your equipment.
  • Stay safe. Never put your own or others’ safety at risk. Natural disasters have the potential to cause a lot of health issues. For example, floodwater can carry diseases and cause stomach problems if contaminated, and fires usually leave behind health hazards such as rubble, ash and debris. Before cleaning up, make sure your local emergency services tell you it’s safe to do so.

How FMX can help: With FMX, you can create work orders for each maintenance and cleanup task that needs to be completed following a disaster, and assign them to your staff. You can even assign these work orders to outside vendors by adding them to your FMX site (you can add unlimited users for no additional cost). You can easily prioritize work orders for your staff by dragging and dropping them on your FMX calendar and can associate labor hours and inventory used with each of these cleanup tasks.

Consider your staff and customers

As you know, a natural disaster is a very burdensome experience for everyone involved, and some people may be able to handle the stress better than others. In all the hustle and bustle of recovery-mode, make sure you take a second and think about three important things.

  1. Staff: Are your employees mentally and physically able to come back to work? They, too, have probably experienced loss and may need some time to get their personal affairs back in order before returning to work. If some of your staff does take time off, consider how this will affect your anticipated cleanup time.
  2. Stakeholders: Whether they are tenants, students, businesses, suppliers, or customers, it’s important to see where they stand post-disaster. These people are an important part of your success; so, if you are at a point in the recovery stage where you can be of assistance to your stakeholders, offer a helping hand.
  3. The market: What has happened to the market since the disaster, and how does this affect your organization? If you are the facility manager for a manufacturing company, you need to determine if the demand for your product will increase or decrease based on the disaster, and if you are a property manager, you need to analyze which of your tenants will be staying in your area or relocating. Disasters affect more than just your facilities and it’s important to stay on top of trends to eliminate any surprises.

It’s not too late to help those affected by this past month’s hurricanes. If you would like to help, American Red Cross is one of many organizations accepting donations for the victims.


Alayna is the marketing communications specialist at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not drafting up content for the blog or social media, she is most likely reading a good book or taking short weekend trips!

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