A Fresh Start: Bringing Disaster-Hit Business Properties Back To Vitality
The damage that floods cause can be catastrophic.
US businesses are at an ever-increasing risk of devastation owing to extreme weather events. In Philadelphia, flooding is the most present risk, something which has been outlined in clear terms by CNBC - reports analyzed by the news firm have shown that US businesses will lose 3.1 million days of operation by the time 2022 is out. When flooding hits, it can completely gut a business - destroying its everyday operations and forcing the owners into panic mode. Pennsylvania is more flood-prone than most, and so it pays to be aware of the risks facing businesses within the state, and to make precautions in case that fateful day does arrive.
State of affairs
Pennsylvania has always been prone to flooding due to the placement of the Delaware Valley. However, this risk is increasing, according to The Allegheny Front. A study analyzed by the website found that the majority of the state will face exceptionally higher flood risks by the turn of the century, with many of the lower-lying towns and cities already at serious risk of repetitive damage. As climate change becomes more exacerbated over years, this risk will only continue to rise. The damage that these floods cause can be catastrophic.
Back in September ‘21, the Inquirer profiled a number of properties that had been absolutely wracked by the flooding. One auto body shop, in Bridgeport, showed how the damage can be far more than just superficial. Flood waters bring with them a huge range of problems, more than just the immediate impact of water but they are solvable.
Starting the deep clean
When undertaking a deep clean of a disaster-hit property, it’s important to get down to the absolute base level of the damage. Just looking at superficial damage, for instance to your decoration and furnishings, is insufficient. There are a huge range of issues that can come in from flooding, including toxic spills and mold growth. These can impact the very structural solidity of a premises, creating long-term consequences for the business and its physical security.
Start the clean by getting into the foundation of the building. Use fans and extractions to take out any water or other spills, using experts where necessary - especially if your business has dealt with chemicals, or there has been damage to gas and electricity utilities. Observe any damage at a structural level, and make yourself aware of exactly what needs to be done to renew the building.
Making it clean
If a business has been protected against longer-term structural damage, it’s time to look at in-depth cleaning. This will require a two pronged approach. Firstly, consider if anything is past repair. Oftentimes, soft or wooden furnishings will be so damaged by mold or fire that they need to be disposed of. If so, make sure you recycle as much as you can. If your business has a particular theme or style, you can also look at using old materials to rebuild in the future - a nod to the past.
Beyond that, make sure your cleanup efforts aren’t just about removing dirt, but about sterilizing, too. Disasters bring with them disease and mold, and it’s important that you not only make the property look good, but make it resilient to further damage, too, by sanitizing as much as you can.
Protecting against the future
There is clearly a disaster risk posed to businesses all across America - so you need to make adaptations today to ensure the next flood or fire doesn’t cause significant damage. Start by considering the type of risk in your area - if it’s floods, you will want to start thinking of basic protections, such as having sandbags available to put out in your property, and flood-proofing the lower floors. You can also move valuables, and business records, to the upper floors of a business where possible. Furthermore, consider bringing in proper cleaning supplies, or the help of consultants, to be able to respond quickly to damage.
Longer-term, the EPA recommends community-based measures to help prevent disasters. This includes isolated utilities, groundwater runoff systems (sometimes as simple as installing commercial gardens), and physically raising properties off the ground. Long-term change to combat disasters is a matter of community planning, and that will help to reduce severity in the short-term, too.
In the meanwhile, however, protect your business through being proactive. Having the tools ready to go for the next time an Ida type situation rolls around is crucial, as is having contacts in the industry to help you correct any problems that end up impacting your business. Do yourself a favor ahead of time and be disaster-ready - it’ll be the crucial step in getting your business up and running when the worst happens, and help your local community in getting back to business, too.
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