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8.29.22 – Southern Maryland Chronicle -by Daniel Carver

Maryland is a beautiful state to do business in, from its rich urban centers and its proximity to the US capitol to its thrilling seasonal shore towns like Ocean City. One element that makes Maryland so great is its gorgeous ocean coastline, which brings that delightful sea breeze in – but it can also bring severe weather during the summer and hurricane season.

For people doing business in Maryland, severe weather is just a fact of life, and it’s essential to know how to prepare when the season rolls around. Small business owners in particular, should have a plan for how to prepare for severe weather, how to warn their customers and fulfill obligations, and how to tackle any damage and get back on their feet after a weather event in the shortest time possible. Here are some key ways to take the sting out of severe weather for your business.

Elevation and Coastal Effects

In order to plan for severe weather, it’s important to first understand what causes it. Maryland isn’t too different geographically from its neighboring states, but it has a few factors that make it more susceptible to rough storms during the summer and fall months.

For one thing, it’s almost all coastline. Maryland has a lot of small inlets that provide more exposure to the shore – but also give the shore much more of an opportunity to make inroads into the places where people live.

Maryland also has many low-lying areas. The state is geographically diverse, containing regions of the popular hiking trails of the Appalachians in its western part, but many areas are vulnerable to flooding towards the shore. That means even a storm that looks less than severe could devastate boardwalk businesses – and a major storm surge could send floodwaters pouring through town.

The worst Maryland weather patterns include tropical storms and hurricanes that hit during the summer and fall, as the area is a common place for them to make landfall if they make their way up the coast. Tornadoes are much rarer, but on average the state gets four tornadoes a year. Keeping up on weather patterns as the season wears on is incredibly key to getting your preparations in order for when you need to hunker down to protect yourself.

Hunkering Down

So, what’s the plan for when a storm is about to hit? To start, better safe than sorry is a good move. You don’t want your staff or customers in harm’s way when a storm arrives, even if you think your business will be able to ride it out. Maryland storms are unpredictable, and a soaker can become a flood with little notice. Additionally, you’ll have a much better chance of minimizing damage if your business is closed and protected before the storm hits.

Take the few days before the storm to prep your business. If you have any valuables inside the store that you can move, you’ll want to remove them from the business before your last day of business prior to the storm. This includes electronics, valuable merchandise, and important perishables you can store elsewhere. Restoring power can be a challenge after a storm, so turning off the power to prevent damage to the equipment and possible fires is key.

Windows are a key point for damage – not only do they get blown out easily and pose a safety risk, but they can then become a point for flooding. Boarding up your windows can help to mitigate this damage, and also make clear to anyone passing by that you’re not open for business until the storm passes.

Keep your customers up to date on social media for the duration of the severe weather, as they’ll want to know what’s going on with their favorite business. Labeling it with custom static cling stickers can be a good way to prevent merchandise loss if you’re worried about inventory possibly getting lost in the chaos. Not every storm will result in a business closure, but it’s often better to take the pre-emptive move and lose a day of business than to take the chance of a bigger loss.

Weathering the Season

Are you prepared for the upcoming storm season? Every Maryland business knows it’s a factor, especially those on the shore. Preparation is the key. Having a disaster plan can make it easier to escape the storm with minimal damage.

Prep in advance, keep people updated via social media and don’t be afraid to close your business for the day of the storm if you have any doubt. The more you prepare, the sooner your business will bounce back from a severe weather event.