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The impact on hotel asset management from natural disasters is well documented. Perhaps the most damaging events are the occurrence of hurricanes. With so many expensive hotels located near the U.S. coastline it is imperative that hotels be prepared for severe weather events.

FEMA Photograph Hurricane Katrina Fountainbleau Hotel Damage

The official hurricane season last from June 1 – November 30 and already there are two tropical developments. The official NOAA 2013 forecast calls for a much higher number of storms for this season so it is critical that hotels, businesses and facilities be prepared.

“For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher)…These ranges are well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.”

Source: NOAA

Normally considered a Gulf or lower east coast threat, Hurricane Sandy proved that even the nation’s most populous metropolitan area is at great risk. In addition, strong winds, torrential rains, flooding, power outages and tornadoes can reach far inland.

Hurricane Sandy, ultimately affected 24 States, caused lost power to over 6 million and resulted in over $71 billion in damage. The lessons that can be learned here apply to hotels, businesses and homeowners within hundreds of miles of the coast.

Minimizing Damages is all About Preparation

Preparing your hotel for the possibility of a hurricane, tropical storm or any type of severe weather only takes a little preventive maintenance planning and can be performed relatively quickly by making use of storm checklists.

Storm checklists are not difficult to put together and can be used over multiple properties/establishments. The checklists are created for the time immediately before a storm for inspections and preventive maintenance, for inspections during a storm (if possible) and for inspections and repairs after the storm.

A checklist is nothing more than a list of assets to be inspected and to be prepared for the upcoming storm. It can be a simple spreadsheet or be generated from your CMMS. How it is generated is not nearly as important as how it is used.

Once a checklist has been created it is maintenance management’s responsibility to ensure that each item is inspected, secured, and in working order.

Ingredients of good hotel storm checklists include any asset that subject to damage or needed during an emergency:

Hurricane Checklists Asset Types

  • Rooftop Assets: Assets that can be moved or damaged by high winds such as satellite dishes, HVAC, roof tiles, gutters and outdoor lighting.
  • Moveable Assets: Anything outdoors not securely fastened or can be secured in a safe location.
  • Immoveable Assets: Assets that can be damaged by flooding such as pools, lobbies, beaches, boardwalks.
  • Power Generation: Assets that provide emergency power, lighting and information such as generators, fuel supplies, batteries and radios.
  • Food stores and coolers. Rotting food creates will only create additional problems.
  • Water and sanitation: Water towers, boilers. Is there an ample supply of freshwater ready? Are assets protected from wastewater contamination?
  • Prep and repair materials such as plywood for windows, tape, sandbags and fans (for drying out carpet).
  • Assets that should be turned off or stored to prevent fumes building up (ex: pilot lights).
  • Kitchen assets: Broilers, grills, ovens should all be turned off and fuel sources inspected for leaks before and after the storm.
  • Grounds: Assets used for care of the premises such as landscaping or mowing.

Once the hotel’s assets have been organized by type, the next step would be to separate them into areas for faster action. For example; maintenance teams can be broken up to handle the inspections of all outdoor equipment at one time. This will expedite the inspections process so that hotel management can quickly ascertain the location and how much additional preparation will be necessary.

Hurricane Checklist Types

  • Premises Checklist: Include all asset types that can be found outside.
  • Equipment Checklists : Include all equipment that need inspection separated by area.
  • Flooding Checklist: This checklist is essentially a listing of all assets needed to prevent or react to flooding.

When your assets are organized into manageable checklist, inspections can be accomplished relatively quickly. For even faster results the mobility of maintenance teams can be increased using mobile devices which enable inspections, work orders and repairs to be performed online.

Lastly, inspections do not stop prior to the storm event. The same checklists can be used for inspections during and after the storm. For example, during the storm event, always on assets should be checked and after the storm all assets should be re-checked for damage and an action plan for repairs set.

On a side note, the remnants of Hurricane Barbara have already made their way into the Gulf of Mexico near Mexico. The hurricane season is here. It is time to prepare.

We hope every hotel is fully prepared for the 2013 hurricane season. Share with us how your hotel prepares for severe weather.