Tornado Recovery Tips for Businesses

Topics: Small Business

Summary: Tornadoes cause billions of dollars in damages every year across the United States. Find out how business owners can prepare their organization for a tornado and help reduce some of the damage, and how to start the recovery process afterwards. 

Tornado Damage: How Businesses Can Recover

On average, around 1,000 tornadoes are reported across the United States every year, the highest number of any country in the world. 2022 saw over 1,300 tornadoes in the country, with Mississippi experiencing the most throughout the year at 183 total. Texas was close behind with 159 tornadoes. The most common months for tornadoes in 2022 were March, April, May, June and November - each of these months reported 100 or more tornadoes. 

The strong winds brought on by tornadoes can reach anywhere from 40 miles per hour to over 300 miles per hour. From roofs being blown off to entire buildings demolished, tornadoes are capable of tremendous damage, often destroying anything and everything in their path. 

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Tornadoes cause an average of $1.1 billion in property damage every year, ranging from minor repairs to total destruction. With the exception of some types of specialty buildings, most buildings are not constructed to withstand the force of a severe tornado.

Tornado Risks for Businesses

While there’s no way to eliminate all the damage if a building is in the direct path of a tornado, there are things business owners can do to help mitigate their risks. The first step is assessing how prone the area is to tornadoes. Some parts of the country are more likely to experience tornadoes than other regions, such as “Tornado Alley” in the south-central United States.

Stay on top of the weather alerts during bouts of storm activity. A tornado watch means the conditions are favorable for a severe thunderstorm or tornado, but there is no urgent threat. A tornado warning, on the other hand, is issued when a tornado touchdown is imminent or when one has already occurred in the nearby vicinity. During a warning, sirens will go off and people should take shelter immediately until it is safe to exit.

If a business is at a heightened risk, it’s crucial to create a plan that protects both the company’s employees and property. For employees, make sure they understand the emergency plan if a tornado watch or warning pops up during working hours. The staff should know what areas of the building are the safest, which usually include basements, corridors, or interior, windowless rooms on the first floor.

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Should a tornado warning be in effect, minimize the damage by keeping exterior doors and windows closed to keep out rain and flying debris. The property should also be kept well maintained throughout the year to reduce the threat from wind-borne debris. Identify and remove branches and trees that could possibly fall on the building walls, roof or power lines and repair loose siding, shingles, brickwork and roofing throughout the year.

What Should a Business Do After a Tornado?

Following a tornado, the first thing to do is to make sure everyone is safe. Continue to listen to weather alerts to stay updated on any additional tornadoes or storms on the way. Stay with your team and wait for emergency crews to arrive, and follow all instructions given. Keep clear of heavily damaged areas as much as possible, and watch out for downed power lines, broken glass, debris and other sharp objects.

Contact your insurance company and file a claim as soon as possible. The sooner this happens, the faster an adjuster can visit the property and start assessing the damages. In the meantime, you should review your policy and start making a detailed list of all the damage the property has sustained, including the interior and exterior of the building, the grounds, equipment and vehicles.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are dishonest individuals that may flock to devastated areas following a disaster, hoping to take advantage of people when they are at their most vulnerable.

It's advised to choose only local, reputable contractors and roofers that have been doing business in the specific area for years, rather than someone coming in from out of state. Additionally, public adjusters may insert themselves into a claim and charge a percentage of the insurance settlement to negotiate the claim on the business’s behalf. Be aware and do not assign over benefits to any contractor, roofer, or public adjuster. Once this happens, the business owner no longer has a say in the claim and how far the claim will be taken.

AmTrust Financial is Here to Help

AmTrust offers small business insurance solutions and loss control services designed to help protect your organization. We also underwrite over 350 class codes, making us an ideal fit for a variety of small businesses. Contact us today to learn more.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

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