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For seven years in a row, a named storm has preceded the June 1 official start of hurricane season. This year, it was Tropical Storm Ana, which dissipated in the North Atlantic in mid-May.

While 2021 is not expected to see as many storms as last year’s record-setting 30 named storms, 14 of which were hurricanes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — NOAA — is predicting this year will still have a higher-than-usual number of storms.

NOAA estimated 2021 will have 13 to 20 named storms with winds of 39 mph or greater, with six to 10 reaching hurricane strength with winds of 74 mph or more and three to five becoming major hurricanes having winds of 111 mph or higher.

And while no storms made landfall in Florida in 2020, Volusia County Economic Development urges business owners to be prepared. The department has released a checklist of things that can help prevent business owners from sustaining thousands of dollars in lost revenue due to structural damage, content damage, interruption of operations and employee displacement.

Topping the list is preparing a Business Disaster Continuity Plan:

Review property insurance policies to determine if you have adequate hazard, flood, wind and business interruption coverage. Video- and photo-document your property, vehicles and inventory before and after any disaster to assist with verifying insurance and tax credit claims. Determine what emergency equipment and supplies are needed to protect and repair your business, and shutter windows, sandbag doors, and cover sensitive equipment. Have a generator ready as a backup until power is restored.

Protect computers, and back up your files. Store backup files in an alternate location. Assemble insurance policies, financial records, inventories, and other important documents. Make duplicates, and store in alternate safe places. Move files and equipment to higher elevations.

Encourage your employees to create a family emergency plan — the sooner they take care of their personal preparations, the quicker they can help prepare your business. Develop an employee alert roster to notify employees during nonworking hours on the status of business operations. Protect employees and schedule only essential personnel during the storm.

Arrange alternate payroll methods for your employees with your banking institution after the disaster. Retain a list of emergency-support phone numbers for various needs, and distribute it to your employees.

Know the community’s evacuation plan and evacuation routes. Create a Crisis Communication plan to communicate with customers, suppliers and employees. Update your plan quarterly, and be sure all existing employees and new hires understand the plan.

For more information before, during and after a storm, bookmark these sites:

Volusia County PIN Network, which works to ensure public-information officers collaborate and coordinate public information before, during and after disasters, can be reached at www.volusia.org/services/public-protection/emergency-management/em-app.stml.

FloridaDisaster.biz was developed to provide businesses, small and large, easy access to critical information before, during and after a disaster. Go to floridadisaster.biz/.

National Weather Service Melbourne can provide current local weather information at www.weather.gov/mlb/.


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