This afternoon, Bridgeport Connecticut either had a pretty bad microburst, or a tornado. The National Weather Service has yet to make that determination, though having been right in the middle of it, it sure SEEMED like a tornado, with "whiteout" conditions.
(UPDATE: The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado touched down in Main Street by our office.)
And some businesses, including my law firm’s Bridgeport office (where I was working this afternoon) were in the thick of things. (We’re fine, though some cars in our building’s parking lot weren’t as fortunate.) And it appears no one was killed in the event overall, thankfully.
The storm was pretty dramatic and I’ve attached a few of my mobile phone photos taken at the time.
Early reports suggest that although some buildings were damaged and trees knocked down, many businesses were spared the worst of it. But it’s only a matter of time before another storm (or hurricane) hits Connecticut again. (And with forecasters calling for perhaps TWENTY named storms to develop this year, the odds on at least one making its way to Connecticut keep improving.)
In times of disaster, what’s an employer to do if it has been damaged by a storm?
It’s actually a topic that I’ve tackled before in some posts like this one. Here are some of the issues:
- Suppose, for example that a business closes for a few days because of storm damage. Does the employer have to pay the employees? The legal answer may depend on whether the employee is an exempt or non-exempt worker. But if the employer may decide to pay all employees regardless as a "good will gesture" as some employers have done after fires, hurricanes and the other types of disasters.
- What can employers do to prepare for the hurricane season or other storms in the future? Easy. Set up a storm policy. Many employers will have in place for winter storms, but make sure that it is applicable for all types of storms and sets forth what is and is not expected. Also consider getting cell phone numbers for employees; in case of a storm, you may be able to send them a text message or call with information, particularly if there are power outages.
- Also, do your employee know what to do if an emergency strikes your workplace while they are there? Where are they supposed to go? While employers may prepare for some fire drills, expanding those drills to include unforeseen disasters will help.
Most employers prepare for storms by worrying about insurance and the physical aspects of an office. But don’t forget dealing with personnel as well. Have rules in place and know the legal limits as well.
If a disaster does strike, you’ll be one step ahead of everyone else. And have one less thing to worry about to get your business back up and running again quickly.
Continue below to see some pictures from today’s storm taken from our offices.