If you've been keeping up with Hurricane Preparedness Week, hopefully you'll have made your preparations and can weather the storm relatively unscathed. But your work isn't done once the bad weather rolls out of town. As a facilities maintenance manager, the final part of your responsibility will be to take stock of the situation once the dust settles, and to dig in for any post-squall repairs that may be in order.
When is it over?
If you evacuated, you may be tempted to rush back as soon as the storm settles to assess the damage, but this is ill-advised. The National Hurricane Center recommended staying put until you hear official confirmation that the hurricane area has been declared safe. Even then, it's imperative to keep an ear to the weather reports, as major weather events such as hurricanes can be unpredictable; you don't want to get caught flat-footed in the middle of a flooded road if heavy rain is about to kick back up. Keep your eyes open for obstacles and debris in the road. Downed power lines, tree limbs and other urban detritus commonly get dislodged, blown around, and can close off roads or create hazards for drivers.
When you do return to your facility, there are several hazards for which you should be on the lookout. Ready.gov cautioned against entering any building that is flooded, you notice any stray power lines surrounding it or if you smell gas. Additionally, if your facility was damaged by fire, wait for the fire department to declare it safe to enter, as the building's structural integrity may be at risk.
Once you've determined that your building is safe to enter, you'll want to take stock of any damage that may have occurred during the storm to determine exactly where you need to catch up in terms of building maintenance. The American Red Cross recommended that if power is still out to use battery-operated light sources such as flashlights- never candles, as they pose a severe fire hazard. If your facility has a generator, do not use it unless it is dry to avoid electrocution.
Establish proper protocol based on the condition of the facility's plumbing. With luck you'll still have running water, but if that's not the case, and your facility isn't equipped with emergency chemical toilets, sanitation is key to so people don't get sick. If need be, refrain from drinking tap water until you hear from authorities that it's safe to do so. You should have bottled water stocked up as part of your preparations, but if not you may have to resort to boiling in the interim.