Next on the Business Continuity Calendar: Winter’s Finally Winding Down . . . So Here Come the Floods

Winter weather still dominates the headlines but it’s time to think about what’s next.  Typically for the continental U.S., that would be the turbulent spring weather season, which too often includes tornadoes, and then we start focusing on the tropics.  But for many regions of the Plains States and areas east, there’s something else to consider.

Noah, the movie, comes out March 28th and the timing might indeed be prophetic in that the Next Big Weather Story is probably going to be thaw-related flooding.  A much larger than usual portion of the country has been in relative permafrost  the last few months and news coverage of the Great Lakes and even Niagara Falls has been astonishing.


The St. Joseph Lighthouse on North Pier, Lake Michigan, Jan. 6, 2014. Photo:

Bad weather is the leading cause of business disruptions* but the good news is that, as opposed to many other types of interruptions, we can prepare for it.  Keep an eye on where the flooding will probably have the greatest impact and make sure your company is as prepared for it as possible, especially if any of your assets are in regions that will be potentially affected.

Just as importantly, consider whether any of your vendors or suppliers are in a potential flood region and remember that your customers might also be affected and that the effect on those suppliers might affect how your organization provides services to those customers when they need it.

flowing-waterFlooding is bad, much worse than most people realize.  In addition to causing widespread property damage, flooding is the number one weather-related cause of death in the U.S. (see yellow 30-year average column).  And remember to never, ever drive through flowing water – or ANY water if you’re not exactly sure of the depths involved – and to be extremely careful when traversing flood waters on foot.  The rule of thumb is that each knot of speed of flowing water is equal to 20 knots of wind speed.  A single inch of rapidly flowing water can knock a person down and carry him or her away and vehicles can be swept away in only 6 inches of moving water.

Finally, keep an eye on changes in flood insurance regulations. ‘Guaranteed’ coverage looks like it will soon favor property owners but the pendulum of legislation on different types of coverage is swinging fairly wide lately.  And any changes in flood insurance regulations usually take a while to go into effect.  Make sure you’re covered and start by checking to see whether or not any of your assets are in flood zones using the official flooding maps that were updated just last month.  And then let’s hope March doesn’t go out like a lion.

* Top 3 Leading Causes of Business Disruptions: 1. severe weather, 2. power outages (commonly weather-related); 3. IT failure (occasionally weather-related): Forrester Research / Disaster Recovery Journal Business Continuity Plan Survey, December 2011.


Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.