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Develop a Communications Plan During a Hurricane or Other Emergencies

May 2021

Depending on where your organization is located, hurricane season may have a big impact on the community that you serve. Whether it’s dealing with having to evacuate your office due to heavy winds, flooding or other issues stemming from a storm, it’s important to be able to let your community know about the conditions that may affect your organization’s ability to provide services.

Part of your organization’s preparation for hurricanes and other emergencies includes developing a plan that allows you to respond promptly, accurately, and confidently. This is a critical part of preparing for disasters.

To get started on your plan, consider your audience. They may be the customers who rely on your services, community partners, your employees and their families, or the news media. Then, design pre-scripted messages for a variety of risks. For example, think about the type of information that you might need to convey during a hurricane.

It’s also important to have an information center to direct incoming calls and questions.

Ask these questions as you develop your communications plan:

  • If your organization must comply with government regulations, are there notifications that must be sent out during an emergency?
  • How can you ensure that everyone is receiving a consistent message?
  • Do you need to customize your message to reach different audiences?

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Consider temporarily redirecting customer requests to a second call center or voice mail system.
  • Designate employees who have media training to interact with the press.
  • Maintain communications between management and employees.
  • Email alert systems and “phone trees” can be used to spread information to key stakeholders.
  • Make sure you have remote access to your phone, texting, and/or social media platforms. This will allow you to update the community on your recovery process.

To learn more about developing communications plans, see FEMA’s Crisis Communications Plan for businesses.

Editor’s note: This is the seventh in a series of articles examining actions organizations can take to ensure they can serve their clients and protect themselves in case of emergency. FEMA’s new Organizations Preparing for Emergency Needs (OPEN) training includes 10 steps to take to be prepared. These include understanding risks, safeguarding critical information, and cross-training key staff.

This article first appeared in the monthly Individual and Community Preparedness Newsletter. Subscribe here.