By Brecken Branstrator
brecken.branstrator@nationaljeweler.com
Hurricane Laura made landfall early Thursday morning on the Texas-Louisiana border. As it moves north, here are tips for jewelers in its path on how to protect their stores, employees and goods. (Photo credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
New York—Hurricane Laura made landfall early Thursday morning near the Texas-Louisiana border.

The Category 4 storm is the second named hurricane of the year, following Hurricane Hanna in late July.

After “rapid intensification” over a 24-hour period into Wednesday, Laura lashed the coast with 140-mile-per-hour winds when it hit land.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the massive storm was downgraded to a Category 2 by Thursday morning but still had sustained winds of more than 100 mph and is expected to cause “catastrophic damage.”

Through the week, NOAA expects Laura to move up the Texas-Louisiana border and into Arkansas before heading east, through southeast Missouri, northern Tennessee and southern Kentucky.

Insurance companies Berkley Asset Protection and Jewelers Mutual Group offer tips to help retailers that are in the storm’s path prepare.

1. Stock up on emergency supplies if you haven’t already. This includes plywood for windows if there are no shutters, as well as mops, brooms, tarpaulins to cover key equipment and sandbags.

2. Keep an eye on TV, radio and online to monitor weather conditions and the issuing of watches and/or warnings.


3. Test generators, emergency lighting, uninterruptible power source equipment and sump pumps to make sure they’re functioning properly.

4. Put items that could be picked up by wind, such as store signs and outdoor furniture, inside the building.

5. Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have the latter, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.

6. Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.

7. Store jewelry inventory in the safe or in a bank.

8. Make sure the computer system is fully backed up and that a copy of key information—like inventory records, repairs, vendors, year-to-date sales, vendors and contacts—has been made to be kept in a safe place away from the store. Jewelers Mutual has a checklist of such material in its Hurricane Preparedness Guide.

9. Charge cell phones and download a weather app, like NOAA Now or NOAA Weather.

10. Give both your staff and local law enforcement your cell phone number.

11. Cover computers, machinery, supplies and other areas with tarps. Avoid storing materials on the floor if they could be damaged by water.

12. Fill your car’s gas tank and get extra cash out.

13. Create an evacuation plan and communicate it to your team, business neighbors and family members. Learn safe routes to travel inland.

14. Evacuate if advised by authorities. Leave early, during daylight hours if possible. Be careful to avoid roads that are flooded or washed out.

15. Since most business insurance plans don’t cover flooding, consider flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, which must be purchased in advance.

16. Do not go near standing water or moving water, or attempt to drive across flowing water.

Berkley Asset Protection and Jewelers Mutual Group also have 10 tips for retailers that apply to after a hurricane has come through.

1. Do not return to the area until the authorities say it is safe to do so.

2. Survey for damage and take pictures of any damage to the building and its contents.

3. Contact your security company and insurance agent as soon as possible to report damage and review next steps.

4. Check for downed power lines and exposed electrical lines. Report loose or dangling power lines to the local utility company, police or fire department.

5. Before utilities are turned back on, check for gas leaks, look for electrical system damage and check for sewage and water line damage.

6. Complete temporary and immediate repairs to minimize hazards and ensure the building can be safely accessed.

7. Remove all debris as soon as the adjuster has been contacted, and separate damaged property from undamaged property, taking care to protect the latter.

8. Use the telephone only for emergency calls, keep abreast of the current situation, and account for all employees.

9. Critique your pre- and post-storm actions to find strengths and weaknesses and make necessary adjustments for the next emergency.

10. As you are setting up the store again, don’t forget to take COVID-19 protocols into account.

“Remember that COVID didn’t go away just because Laura showed up. You should still be taking the necessary precautions—wearing a mask, washing hands, and social distancing,” said Andrew Chipman, vice president of jewelers block at Berkley Asset Protection.

For additional help from either company, visit BerkleyAssetPro.com or JewelersMutual.com.


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