The Atlantic Hurricane Season starts June 1st. In advance of that, we have National Hurricane Preparedness Week with news and advice for businesses and those in the public sector to make sure they're ready for the worst. The 2005 Atlantic season was actually the worst on record - seven major hurricanes (including Katrina) and 28 named storms. The 2014 predictions aren't in that ballpark - the NOAA is predicting 8-13 named storms and one or two major hurricanes.
The Question This Year: Who Relies On You?
Storm preparation is one of those things that nobody wants to think about beforehand, but everyone is glad they did it after the fact. Whether you're a small business owner or you work for city or county government, you have people who depend on you. The community depends on local government to keep services running. Small business owners and fuel distributors have customers that rely on them to keep providing the good and services they need. And a major hurricane will definitely put a kink in any of those plans.
How's Your Emergency Plan? Business Who Don't Have One May Not Last
Often, small businesses are stretched thin just keeping their heads above water in the marketplace. They may not think they have the time or money to plan for something that hasn't even happened yet. This is a grave mistake. History shows that businesses hit by major storms who have stop operating for more than 30 days, 80% of those businesses have to declare bankruptcy. They never re-open their doors.
Municipalities, industrial companies and public/private fleets should have detailed plans in place to prepare them for catastrophic emergencies. Many times, with local governments, they may already have required protocols defined, so everyone knows what to do. These plans always should include contingencies for fuel storage to power the emergency generators and equipment that will be needed to provide services during such an event.
A good emergency plan should consider the following elements with respect to stored fuels:
- A plan of action for the fuel farm to prevent release of fuel into the environment and to protect the the fuel in the tank firm during and after an emergency.
- Engineering analysis of the tanks and piping to determine their ability to withstand hurricane-force winds, storm surge and heavy rains.
- The amount of fuel needed to be maintained in the tanks at each hurricane category to stabilize the tanks and minimize damage.
Stored diesel and gasoline fuels have to be ready to use at a moment’s notice, because an unexpected emergency can happen at any time. These fuels need to be kept fresh and their quality must be protected from the elements that attack stored fuel quality.
Exposure to water, air and heat are the most common causes of the degradation of stored fuel quality. This elements will set off chemical reactions that destroy the quality of the gas or diesel and render them less or even in-effective. Treating the fuel with a fuel stabilizer (for diesel fuel) and a water control agent (especially important for gasoline and ethanol) are important parts of an emergency fuel management protocol.
You may be interested in these other posts:
- Hurricane Sandy One Year Later: Making Sure Storm Victims Can Buy Gas
- Hurricane Preparedness: Families, Municipalities & Fuel Storage
This post was published on May 30, 2014 and was updated on October 2, 2019.