As Hurricane Irma approaches the Southeastern United States, we hope that everyone in the potential impact zone is working to get prepared. Being based in South Carolina, we are very concerned for many of our friends and clients as the storm approaches. While everyone’s list of things to do might vary, we just wanted to offer a few things to add to the checklist, particularly if you own an alcohol related business.
1. All of our producer clients in range of the storm should consider filling kegs and/or empty fermenters with water in case of a shortage. If this storm is as bad as expected, it is likely that electricity will be out for some time and that water service will be unreliable. You probably won’t be able to brew for a short time. Retailers and beer enthusiasts should consider filling empty growlers with fresh water. Many breweries and/or retailers might be offering fresh water in kegs and/or growlers, but plan ahead.
2. Businesses should gather important documents from the business and put them in a safe container and taking them with you or at least put them in a secure location. If you can’t take the documents with you, then use plastic bags and duct tape. Put documents in at least gallon-size Ziploc bags. Duct tape all bags closed. Important documents can vary, but these would include licensing paperwork, insurance policies, tax returns, and contracts.
3. Take photos today or tomorrow of every room at the business (or home), every piece of electronics, and everything valuable, including documents. Upload the pictures to the cloud before the storm. Also make sure that your contacts are uploaded to the cloud.
4. Review your business (or home) insurance policy to make sure you have coverage for any storm damage to the business. Remember, flood insurance isn’t covered under standard policies. Certainly, if you aren’t insured, then the bad news is that a policy can't be procured in the time needed. However, having knowledge of what your policy says can be beneficial in preparing for what you need to do and how you will need to proceed on a claim after the storm.
5. In terms of storing product, it is best to store it in a place above the ground in the case of flooding. Certainly, this might not be practical for keg storage. However, if you have shelving and can afford to move product or other merchandise off of a low area, then that would be beneficial.
6. You can’t move your equipment, but you can prepare your building for potential flooding if you are in a flood plain. Local authorities should have information regarding sand bags. You’ll probably already know what your drainage situation is, but look into generators to operate certain pumps.
7. In terms of making a true hurricane plan, please consult the authorities and experts and what is recommend for the aftermath. But, please start now if you haven’t. There are many great resources out there.
8. It is anticipated that state government offices are going to be closed for at least Monday and Tuesday of next week. Government offices may likely also be closed on Friday in coastal counties. If you need anything quickly from DOR, DHEC, or other government offices that you usually work with, it is best to move quickly.
9. Follow meteorologists in you area regarding the latest information and forecasting. For the lowcountry specifically, we would highly recommend Chrissy Kohler, Rob Fowler Storm Team 2, Josh Marthers, The Weather Channel, and Bryan Norcross.
Stay safe, everyone.
Brook Bristow is a South Carolina-based lawyer at Bristow Beverage Law, who primarily counsels companies in the alcohol industry on business and employment laws, as well as on compliance, licensing, & intellectual property. You may reach him directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org