On Wednesday, September 28, 2022, Hurricane Ian made landfall in Coya Costa, Florida — which is less than 35 miles from my home. I was one of the fortunate ones to sustain minimal damage, also getting my internet and power back after just three days. So many others have lost everything, with search and rescue still underway.
Over the past several days, I’ve had a lot of time to think about not just my life but also my business. I’ve also gone over the steps I did (and did not take) when preparing for this type of natural disaster. I’d like to share with you what I have come up with so you can prepare your business should this type of major event ever find its way to your doorstep.
Plan for the Worst
When Ian was originally headed into the Gulf, it was thought that he was going to strike further up the Florida peninsula. Although, at the same time, weather forecasters continued to reinforce that all locations inside the cone could be hit head-on.
Planning for the worst prepared my mind to consider what would happen if we took a direct hit. This would likely mean that I’d be out of power and internet service (which I was for three days).
So, before the storm hit, I downloaded all of the work that I could do without the internet. For content requiring online research, I did that research beforehand and placed the content on a Word document so I could read it offline. Then, all I needed was to keep my generator going so my laptop would stay powered up.
Plan to Not Be Able to Work at All (at Least Temporarily)
This is where I went wrong. I thought that because I had everything I needed to work offline, I could continue with my projects with little to no disruption. This isn’t how it turned out.
In the days following Ian’s arrival, I was still trying to process exactly what happened. I’d just spent more than 12 hours in my closet, staying safe from his tornado-like winds. Then, once I finally emerged, the threat was not totally over due to rising rivers and storm surges.
The next few days felt as if I were in a brain fog. Every time I tried to sit down and concentrate on my work, my mind would drift to something else I needed to do, such as call the roofer to see how bad the damage was or start or stop the generator to conserve gas. Or the news would pull my attention away.
An article that would normally take me 2-3 hours to write was now taking 5-7 hours. I didn’t have the focus I needed, so it took me a lot longer to do things I used to do with relative ease. Building this type of time into your schedule allows you to deal with what just happened without worrying about missing your clients’ deadlines.
Keep Your Clients in the Loop
Since I work online, my clients are scattered all over. Many don’t necessarily know where I live, let alone that I was in Ian’s path. Making them aware of this situation gave us the opportunity to talk beforehand about what this meant or, at a minimum, to notify them of the potential disruption.
I also set my email autoresponder to let anyone who attempted to contact me know that my responses may take longer due to being in the impacted area. This helped keep clients that I don’t work for as regularly know what was going on, while also providing an explanation if I didn’t respond as quickly as I normally would.
For clients that I work with more regularly, we kept in touch via text. I never realized it before, but several of my clients live within a few hours of me. So, I wasn’t the only one going through this. They were going through it too. Staying in touch allowed us to go through it together, also increasing our understanding of any work parameters or deadlines that needed to be changed.
I’m sure there will be more lessons learned as we’re still in the early stages of figuring all of this out. But this is what I’ve come up with as of now, brain fog and all.short url: