TASB Risk Management Fund

The Best Tips for Hurricane Readiness and Response

July 06, 2018 Melanie Moss

Storm photo

Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, with September being the most active month. Coastal regions may be familiar with the risk, but storms can also affect areas more than 100 miles inland.

Whether threatened by a hurricane or by the wind, rain, tornadoes, or floods, you should prepare for the potential impact of such a storm. The first step is to review or create your emergency operations plans and be prepared to take actions that protect students, faculty, staff, property and vehicles, as well as support your surrounding community if needed. 

Before an event

You can implement processes throughout the year to prepare for and mitigate losses during a hurricane or storm.

  • Remain weather-aware and carefully monitor local radio, television, and social media reports from the National Weather Service and local emergency managers.
  • Recognize the difference between weather watches and warnings. A severe weather watch means conditions may lead to an event, but nothing has occurred yet. Warnings mean there are dangerous weather conditions.
  • Consider how changing weather conditions can affect operations. Pay special attention to the state of bus routes, playgrounds, and low lying areas around campuses. 
  • Realize that some activities, including class, may need to be cancelled or shortened.
  • Faculty, staff, administrators, and board members should be aware of local and state procedures for requesting assistance, and understand the importance of following those processes.
  • Assess costs, insurance, and the impact of the resource request on overall school operations and services. When school resources are shared with local and state jurisdictions, school officials should carefully inventory, photograph and document any assistance provided, both before and after the incident and ensure that expectations are written out. 
  • Familiarize yourself with campus electrical distribution system layout and design.
  • Check food handling procedures in cafeterias as well as processes for the handling of perishables in science labs, classrooms, and the nurse’s offices to ensure proper procedures during power outages.

After an event

There are things you can do to maintain a safe environment and prepare for the claim process if you need to file claims.

  • Secure the area and protect any impacted property against further damage.
  • File any relevant claims immediately (or as soon as possible). Failure to do so could result in late reporting coverage issues.
  • Board up broken windows, holes in walls, roof leaks, and areas exposed to damage
  • Be prepared to assess damage and report any losses.
  • Take photos and keep records of expenditures for emergency repairs. Keep receipts, as they may be required for reimbursement.
  • Cover buildings and exposed property.
  • If classes need to be cancelled, schools should be ready to submit documentation to the Texas Education Agency.
  • An inspection of the entire boiler system should be made, both internally and externally, noting obvious problems and any special equipment or personnel needed to facilitate repairs. Safety of the personnel performing inspections and repairs is the highest priority. Because flood waters contain many hazardous chemicals and bacteria, personnel safety procedures should be developed and enforced.
  • Volunteer and donations management plans are important tools to garner efficient assistance with stabilization and recovery efforts.
  • Know your flood risks, have a response plan, and work on mitigating risks.

TASB has additional resources for districts and community colleges that were impacted by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and are still in the recovery phase. For more information about emergency management and school security, contact Melanie Moss at 512.505.2868. Contact Auto, Liability, and Property if you experience damage from a storm or hurricane.

The Department of Homeland Security also has a variety of resources for preparing for hurricanes.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in September 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Tagged: "disaster preparedness", FEMA, hurricanes, "severe weather"