Emergency management: Best practices gained from the Queensland floods
Jones Lang LaSalle has released a report entitled Queensland Floods: Disaster Recovery Procedures and Best Practices, sharing what worked well in the lead up to and following the Queensland floods, what some of the lessons learned were and what it considers to be best practice preparation for natural disasters in the future.
Queensland experienced extreme weather conditions in December 2010 and early 2011, and the flooding event was followed by Tropical Cyclone Yasi, which hit the north Queensland coast in late January 2011.
The Queensland floods impacted nearly 100 client sites in Jones Lang LaSalle’s facilities management portfolio, the majority of these being cut off by rising waters, with nine of them suffering minor or major damage. Cyclone Yasi impacted almost 50 sites across the portfolio in a similar fashion with only two suffering minor damage.
Jones Lang LaSalle has released a report entitled Queensland Floods: Disaster Recovery Procedures and Best Practices, sharing what worked well in the lead-up to and following these natural disasters, what some of the lessons learned were and what it considers to be best practice preparation for natural disasters in the future.
According to the report, one of the clearest lessons Jones Lang LaSalle learned from these disasters was the need to incorporate short-term flexibility and tactical plans into the long-term real estate strategy. The company notes that whether it be a requirement to dispose of space quickly or, in the case of a natural disaster, acquire new space, having a short-term contingency already in place can save significant time and money. “CRE teams should develop a short-term tactical plan for each 12-month period under their long-term strategic plan that will allow for flexibility when unforeseen circumstances arise,” states the Jones Lang LaSalle report.
In addition, the report notes that it is critical that the in-house real estate team (or their outsourced provider) have the final say on declaring a site operational again, ensuring that all items on the pre-occupation checklist are completed prior to anyone accessing the site. The company adds that having an agreement with preferred suppliers that they will have dedicated resources in the event of a disaster significantly reduces site closure time.
“We experienced a number of situations where pressure was applied from the business to the real estate team to declare the site fit for occupancy. Checklists need to be practical and focus principally on restoring essential services, where some other works can be undertaken once the business has resumed occupancy. Making them too cumbersome will frustrate both landlord and tenant,” the company reports.
According to Jones Lang LaSalle, social media proved to be a powerful communications tool. The company notes that if an organisation’s server and IT system failed, social media networks allowed them to post messages to employees informing them of the situation. The report states that organisations need to have a strategy for tapping into these networks as an essential communication channel in the event of a disaster.
Further advice from Jones Lang LaSalle is to ensure that disaster management and business continuity plans are up-to-date, tested, communicated across the business and housed online. “Understanding the capacity of backup services such as water tanks, diesel fuel capacity and generator run times should be part of the process. Testing should include loading the recovery facilities to full capacity, and understanding the grid capacity and alternative feeds,” states the report.
Another learning the company imparts was to develop ‘crisis kits’ for properties in flood prone locations, including tape and sandbags, which can be used in the event of an emergency.