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How to Use Your Notification System During Hurricanes

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Hurricane Earl may be petering out, but that doesn’t mean we can be any less vigilant with hurricane season still in full force. Whether contending with the effects of Hurricane Earl or preparing for future hurricanes, here are a few tips for using your notification system to keep your organization and constituents informed and safe.

Before a hurricane hits:

1. Safety and preparedness guidance. Provide employees, citizens, and others with tips for preparing their homes and families for a hurricane.

2. Situational updates. Keep management in the loop with regular updates, which will also reassure them that you are closely monitoring the situation and are prepared to act. Include graphic attachments of the storm’s progress.

3. Conference calls. Coordinate briefings with internal teams, county services, PSAPs, and city officials.

During a hurricane:

1. Response team and Emergency Operations Center activation. Notify and assemble emergency response teams. Use quota notifications to determine people resource availability and polling for reporting times.

2. Emergency operations directives. Enact emergency plans and policies. Attach documents as needed.

3. Situational updates. Provide management, response, teams, and constituents with ongoing status updates as the hurricane progresses, gets worse, or gets better. Provide reassurance.

4. Safety reminders. Sustain communications throughout the hurricane. Reinforce safety precautions and necessary actions.

5. Building and road closures. Issue alerts for weather-related closures and cancellations to keep people out of harm’s way. Reiterate work-from-home and other related policies.

6. Evacuation notices. Manage evacuations, provide shelter-in-place guidance, and issue status updates and re-entry instructions.

7. Wellness checks. Conduct wellness checks with the elderly and special needs populations through real-time polling.

8. Conference calls. Leverage conference calls to brief the team and determine next steps.

After a hurricane abates:

1. All-clear alerts. Bring response efforts to an orderly close by sending out an all-clear message.

2. Recovery and return-to-normalcy advisories. Advise citizens and others on next steps, including providing re-entry instructions, resumption of normal business processes, and more.

3. Clean-up coordination. Manage volunteer availability and coordinate field activities.

4. After-action reporting. Attach after-action report templates to follow-up notifications, ensuring all teams are using one standard format for efficiency, accuracy, and consistency.

HOW SOME ORGANIZATIONS USE INCIDENT NOTIFICATION DURING HURRICANES:

Bank of Hawaii – Bank of Hawaii uses the Everbridge incident notification system extensively for hurricanes, tropical storms, and other natural disasters, sending numerous reports for each event, including twice-daily status updates and instructions to employees, executive management, the call center, and the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). Messages provide advice on preparing property and ensuring personal safety, status updates and graphics tracking the hurricanes’ progress, Bank of Hawaii’s preparations and proactive measures, and emergency response plan reminders. Read more about Bank of Hawaii’s incident notification usage and get a sample message from Tropical Storm Hilda.

Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance – When major disasters occur, KFB experiences the catastrophe as both a claims event and a business continuity challenge. During Hurricane Ike, KFB sent five broadcasts: two to its employee and agent base and three to management and the emergency response team. Thanks to a concerted response, KFB remained open for business without interruption and its usage during Hurricane Ike provided some insights for managing future disasters. Read about KFB’s lessons learned.

City of Galveston – Throughout Hurricane Ike, the City of Galveston used the Everbridge incident notification system to alert and update its residents, emergency personnel and key officials about evacuations, road closures and deployments. Officials used the platform’s voice and text message capabilities to mobilize staff and deliver essential public safety information—including hurricane warnings, evacuation orders and reentry instructions—to its residents and businesses. Read more about how Galveston used incident notification to protect residents.