Weathering the financial storm: 6 steps state and local governments should take now to prepare for hurricane season
As hurricane season dawns, and with budgets and staff stretched thin due to COVID-19, state and local governments must be financially prepared for any potential hazard.
CohnReznick works directly with state and local governments to help them prepare for, and recover from, disasters.
The best practices below are lessons learned from our experience.
1. Review insurance policies
Safeguarding assets helps protect you during times of disaster. If you have received federal assistance before, make sure you are abiding by any “obtain and maintain” insurance requirements. This important step can save you time and effort when dealing with any federal assistance programs and help ensure that your entity is maximizing funding.
2. Establish an emergency and disaster timekeeping policy
Labor costs for emergency and disaster planning may be eligible for reimbursement – but not if you don’t have a valid emergency/disaster timekeeping policy. Make sure that the labor policy is not contingent on federal funding or a federal disaster declaration! Be prepared and have an established timekeeping policy capable of producing appropriately detailed and organized timekeeping records for potential reimbursement.
3. Review disaster service contracts
Confirm that your contracts are valid, especially your debris and recovery service contracts, and that the proper procurement clauses are incorporated. This can save significant effort, time, and money during the critical stages of recovery.
4. Take pre-disaster photos of facilities
Now is the time to document the current condition of all your facilities. Take pictures, and collect maintenance records, inspection details, etc., to show that your facilities are maintained. This will also help with providing information on what exactly was damaged due to the storm.
5. Utilize relationships made during COVID-19
The extended COVID-19 response certainly allowed state and local officials to make meaningful and beneficial relationships with other stakeholders, industry partners, etc. Perhaps you now are very familiar with all the medical providers in your area, or have made a great federal contact. Make sure to keep those relationships fresh going into hurricane season by inviting your new contacts to an exercise or including them on a distribution list. Those contacts may come in handy in the aftermath of a hurricane.
6. Stay informed
COVID-19 and recent storms and wildfires brought many changes to policies for disaster recovery practices that could financially impact how you should respond to and recover from an event. Sign up for notices at https://public.govdelivery.com
Preparing your community ahead of time will aid in a prompt response and recovery. These six best practices have little to no cost to your community, but could save millions of dollars in the long run.