Millions are preparing for Hurricane Florence, which is scheduled to strike the coasts of North Carolina and South Carolina in the coming days. But what happens after the storm?
While no one can control the path and strength of the storm, as a business owner, you can take some steps now that will make it easier to get back on your feet when the waters recede.
The first thing is to make sure you have duplicate copies of key documents, such as bank statements, tax returns and insurance policies. These should be safeguarded in a waterproof or fireproof container separate from the original set.
We and most financial institutions store files electronically, so they can be easily retrieved. If you still have some documents that are only provided on paper, however, you should scan them into an electronic format and save them to an external hard drive or USB flash drive. Be sure you store these devices somewhere safe so they too are protected.
If the banks in the area are still open, it is a good idea to have your general managers and supervisors take sales deposits to the bank as soon as possible before the severe weather hits.
If you need to evacuate the area, you may want to bring your computer with you or a backup device in case of flooding and/or power outages, particularly if you do not use a cloud-based software for your accounting records and payroll. You can always upload these copies to our client portal as well at www.antarescpas.com.
- Employees and payroll
Make sure you have a clear plan for communicating with your employees, updating them about scheduling, hours of operation or any employee assistance programs. Make sure all employees are alerted as soon as possible if you need to close your restaurant. We advise contacting them using various methods, including phone, text and email.
As stated above, make sure you have backup data of your payroll. When Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016, some owner/operators had to duplicate their payroll from the prior pay period because they could not get to their data due to power outages.
If your restaurant is impacted by the storm, you will need to file claims with the insurance for property damage or loss, loss of product and other damage. We advise that you photograph and/or video record your stores, property, equipment, and anything else of value before the storm hits. This will make it easier to claim insurance and tax benefits after the disaster strikes.
Remember, the hurricane is usually just the first wave. Flooding from rising waterways as a result of heavy rains is often just as damaging or even more so. You will want to photograph and record any and all damage after the hurricane blows through and any flooding occurs.
We will keep you posted on any tax deductions and incentives that may be available as a result of the hurricane. In the meantime, please let us know how we can help you during this uncertain time.