The Impact of Extreme Floods on Business Operations

This week’s devastating floods in Europe left more than 100 people dead, with thousands more missing, and caused an uncalculated amount of damage to areas of Belgium and Germany.

The floods were sudden and unexpected, driven by heavy rains that caused rivers to burst their banks — overturning cars, destroying homes, and leaving many stranded on the roofs of their homes.

Meteorologists estimate that in just 24 hours, between 4 to 6 inches of rain fell in the area, which is more than a month’s worth of rainfall. This type of extreme flooding is highly unusual for Western Europe and experts place the blame directly on climate change.

“Science tells us this is a clear indication of climate change and that this is something that really, really shows the urgency to act,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told CNN.

While the European Union works to address climate change at the government level, what can business leaders do to prepare and protect assets and operations in the case of extreme weather like flooding? 

Here is how your business can prepare with a strong operational plan for climate security.

Utilities and Renewable Energy

Extreme weather is the leading cause of electric power outage events, according to the US Department of Energy. The specific impact of flooding on utilities and energy companies is clear: floods can damage power lines and substations, destroy solar panels, wind turbines, and more. 

Flooding can knock out power for days or even weeks depending on the severity of the floods, devastating your ability to serve your customers. 

The Solution

What can you do to prepare for flooding and prevent this damage? Utility and energy companies must set parameters to immediately send out weather alerts when rainfall exceeds specific accumulations in the area of their assets

energy utilities flood risk

Instead of waiting for flooding to occur, you can instead flag when there is a risk and activate your emergency plan to minimize damage to assets. This could include flood mitigation strategies like pulling new cables or taking equipment offline before the flooding starts. The goal is to be proactive, rather than reactive, to minimize outages and damage to equipment.

Trucking and Road Logistics

Whether you’re shipping food or medicine or furniture, weather can always slow your deliveries or put them at risk of damage along the road. When it comes to flooding, you don’t want your truck drivers or your cargo stranded on a washed-out road, or — even worse — overturned and destroyed. The risk to employees and to your bottom line from flooding is high.

The Solution

How do you know when to re-route your trucks away from the areas experiencing dangerous levels of rain? You need to monitor the risks of flooding along the route, automatically alerting your drivers so they can adjust their course and avoid danger.

road logistics shipping flood risk

Rather than getting stranded on a closed road, your drivers can avoid the flooded areas entirely, keeping your cargo and employees safe and secure.

Shipping and Intermodal

While the flooding in Europe was inland, the risk of coastal flooding is also on the rise. Experts predict that flooding could significantly impact global port operations by as early as 2030

Because ports are already at sea level, the risks are heightened. While docks may not be impacted, flooding of the surrounding infrastructure of roads, railheads and supporting facilities in the vicinity of the ports is the challenge.

The Solution

When there is a high risk of flooding from a hurricane or severe storm, you can activate your emergency plan and take immediate action to remove or secure equipment.

port flood risk

This can not only prevent damage to valuable assets, but also keep employees safe and get shipments back on track faster after the flooding has subsided. 

On-Demand Services

Similar to trucking, on-demand businesses that deliver food, mobility, and more have to understand how flooding can slow ETAs and impact the customer experience. Even moderate flooding could force couriers to re-route, causing unexpected delays.

For on-demand delivery companies that operate on razor-thin margins, late arrivals can mean bad reviews and rapidly declining revenue.

The Solution

Rather than waiting for a delay caused by flooding on the route, you can proactively communicate with both couriers and customers to ensure safety and set customer expectations.

on-demand flood risk

With a better handle on the risks of weather, you can be proactive, rather than reactive to the weather.

Why Weather Intelligence is the Answer

You can’t plan for every weather disaster, but you can ensure your business has the necessary information and tools to respond quickly. Monitoring forecasts isn’t enough: you need to know how incoming weather will affect your business today, tomorrow, and next week. 

Weather intelligence helps you to identify high-risk weather events and to take a proactive strategy to minimize risk, avoid service disruptions, and mitigate rises in costs.  

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