Resilient Risk Management in the Face of Hurricane Season
Over a decade ago, the storm surge associated with Hurricane Katrina was 25 to 28 feet above normal tide level. Storm surges of that magnitude have the ability to inundate two-thirds of interstate highways, 29 airports and virtually all ports in the Gulf Coast area, and that doesn’t take into account the damage from waste.
When Hurricane Harvey struck Houston, pollution from petrochemical plant releases became a huge concern. Then came Hurricane Florence, and pig manure lagoons burst, fouling local waterways. In the last few months, the EPA released a 150-page document outlining guidance for how to address the debris left in the wake of floods, hurricanes and wildfires.
So just how secure is your supply chain? How much time and money have you devoted to risk management when a severe storm hits?
The Risk Institute at The Ohio State University encourages businesses to study a particular event – whether a hurricane, fire, flood, earthquake or tornado – and simulate that exercise within your business to see how prepared you are to deal with it. This approach quickly identifies weaknesses in the organization and allows it to be better prepared to handle those circumstances.
In peak hurricane season, businesses need plans centered on a resilience strategy, looking at every aspect of the storm - from prep to possible waste hazards after the fact. Organizations tend to budget for the immediacy of the impact as opposed to the future potential storms or disaster.
Understanding and preparing for risk creates a business that is resilient. Resiliency includes:
- The ability of a system to maintain a high level of functioning during and after a disaster
- The efficient use of remaining resources at a given point in time. It refers to the core economic concept of coping with resource scarcity. When a hurricane disrupts shipping and production, the business can not only cope; it can thrive.
- The ability and speed to recover
Businesses should also consider the contingent impacts of storms that could lead to business interruption such as power outages, the loss of telecommunications and the need to remove waste.
Quest Resource Management Group advises companies of all industries to consider implementing natural disaster waste management programs, which can help track incoming storms and ensure comprehensive debris removal solutions are deployed, hazardous waste is treated and cleanup services are lined up, helping affected communities and businesses quickly recover and rebuild their operations.
In the wake of a natural disaster, businesses need to take the shortages of containers and service interruptions into account as cleanup efforts get underway. Disaster recovery isn’t just about what happens after the storm, it is about what happens in the days before.
Make sure that current dumpsters are emptied so that you can fill them up with debris once the storm has passed, or reserve containers to be deployed after a storm makes landfall and the roads are accessible. In the event of a storm incapacitating your operation - stage dumpsters so you have priority access to a much-needed container rental and disposal service.
Your waste management vendors are going to be your lifeline when it comes time to clean up storm debris, so choose them wisely and make sure they can operate quickly after the storm in order to support your operation. The more locations you have and the more states you operate in, the more important it is to work with an experienced company. Pick a company that proactively helps you prepare and lines up the necessary resources to ensure your business resumes operation quickly and safely.
Preparation is the key to getting any business or community back on track after a natural disaster, and when it comes to hurricane preparation, the old adage that “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” rings very true.
About the Authors
Philip S. Renaud is Executive Director of The Risk Institute at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.
Ray Hatch, Quest Resource Holding Corporation (NASDAQ: QRHC), Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board.