Some of the long-range computer weather models have been forecasting that the next few weeks will become quite active in the tropics. For those on the East Coast and Connecticut, that can only mean one thing: Let the hurricane watching, speculating, and hyperventilating begin.

It’s not necessarily a theoretical issue either. Today marks the 55th anniversary of the devastating floods arising from Hurricanes Connie and Diane.  A hurricane may not happen with frequency in Connecticut, but when one hits, it tends to have a pretty big impact.  (The last major hurricane to hit Connecticut directly was Hurricane Gloria back in 1985.)

However, for employers, now is the perfect time to dust off the storm preparation plans and ensure that you understand the rules ahead of time.

It is a topic that I’ve touched on each hurricane season (see prior posts here, here and here) so I thought that this year, I would share another article that I’ve seen in the past that provides a great foundation for employers. 

It was published by (where else) the Florida Employment Law Blog (featuring some of my former colleagues as well). 

Among the tips provided:

  • Identify and notify those employees you believe should be deemed “emergency services personnel” who will be required to work during a storm or evacuation order. Make arrangements for providing these employees with food and shelter. Make sure to have procedures in place for evacuation of these employees in the event the hurricane or other disaster causes the workplace to become unsafe.
  • Identify your “essential employees.” These are employees that you cannot require to be at work during a hurricane or evacuation but you believe are vital to the continued operations of your company. Determine what incentives you can provide these employees to entice them to work during a disaster or to return to work as soon as possible. These incentives can include shelter, hot meals, fuel, as well as arrangements for family members.
  • Establish a contingency plan to address the needs of those employees who may be temporarily living in company facilities during a storm or disaster. Ensure you can provide such necessities as gas, food, and shelter to these employees. 

There are lots of other practical suggestions in the post as well. While the seas are calm, and a hurricane is still just an idea in a computer forecast model, take a bit of time to update your plan of action. If and when a hurricane hits, you’ll be ahead of the game.

(Incidentally, the image is the cover a out-of-print children’s novel entitled "Flood Friday" by Lois Lenski, in which she recounts the story of an 11-year-old affected by the Floods of 1955. If you can find a copy at your local library, I’d recommend it highly for your family.)