The official hurricane forecast as of early Wednesday morning has Connecticut squarely in the path of Hurricane Irene. Now is the time to start following the news and begin initial preparations for a possible storm.

Although we’re still many days away, the weather forecasters are starting to sound the alarm of a possible major hurricane named Irene hitting South Carolina and perhaps coming up the East Coast.

Hurricane Irene, 9a, 8/22

It has been twenty years since the last hurricane touched Connecticut and many people have likely forgotten how much damage even an indirect hit from a storm like Bob (back in 1991) can cause.

Each year I’ve written about this topic (most recently back in August 2010)  and so far, each storm that seems a possibility to hit Connecticut turns right or fades away.  Will we be as lucky again this year? Perhaps.

But just in case, now’s the time to dust off your storm-related policies and make sure that you’re set for a hurricane or tropical storm.

What are some things to think about?  Particularly for those employers near the Long Island Sound, you may want to consider the following:

  • 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.

The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection earlier this month released their tips for hurricane preparedness.  You may want to take a look at it and, if we get closer to a hurricane, consider sharing it with your employees.

You can also sign up for alerts from Connecticut’s Alert system and stay up to date with the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

A hurricane need not hit Connecticut to have a major impact. Employers that prepare now can make that storms like this don’t catch them off guard.

(Incidentally, continuing the music theme for the week, the title is a play off of the old song, Come On Eileen.)